A new study finds that as seniors age, their perspective of how successfully they are aging steadily improves. The results also indicate that psychological factors, such as resilience and absence of depression, can be as strong as physical factors in predicting a senior’s wellbeing.
The study conducted by researchers at Stanford University and UC San Diego surveyed participants, who averaged 77 years in age. The extensive interview covered a variety of topics including overall health, demographics, and subjects aimed at uncovering psychological traits.
Researchers found that the older the subject, the higher their feeling of wellbeing. "Even though older age was closely associated with worse physical and cognitive functioning, it was also related to better mental functioning," said Colin Depp, co-author of the study. This was seen across income and education levels and when marital status was taken into account. Lead investigator of the study, J Dilip V. Jeste, says that these results should make many change their perspective on the aging population. “Successfully aging older adults can be a great resource for younger generations,” said Jeste.
When controlled for age, researchers found that resilience and lack of depression had strong associations with positive attitudes towards aging. Physical and cognitive functioning also played a role, but could be overcome with certain psychological traits. For example, seniors with poor physical health and high levels of resilience had the same levels of wellbeing as their peers who had good physical health but low levels of resilience.
Read more about the study in the article: Optimism, Resilience Key to Happiness in Old Age or purchase the full findings in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
The U.S. Justice Department has published an online resource to report elder abuse, the Elder Justice website.
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