You are only as old as you feel. Now there is evidence to suggest that people who feel younger than their actual age experience many positive mental and physical health benefits, and those who feel older experience worse health. “To be specific, those who report feeling relatively old experience lower positive and higher negative affect, lower life satisfaction, lower self-esteem, lower self-efficacy, lower meaning-focused coping, higher pessimism about aging, and higher work strain than those who feel younger relative to their chronological age,” said Steven E. Mock and Richard P. Eibach of the University of Waterloo and authors of a new study examining the relationship between attitude and aging. They noted that people who have a subjective age (the age they feel they are) below their chronological age experienced health benefits far beyond those who felt their age.
The team examined data on aging adults that was collected over ten years from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS). The participants were interviewed at the onset of the study (Wave 1), and again at the end of the study (Wave 2). The researchers found that at Wave 1, 86% of the respondents had a subjective age lower than their actual age. At Wave 2, that number dropped to 83%. “For aging attitudes, approximately 16% felt that quality of life was better for those in their 20s compared to those in their 60s, 20% felt that quality of life was the same whether people were in their 20s or 60s, and 64% rated quality of life for those in their 60s higher than those in their 20s,” said the team. Additionally, at both Waves, lower subjective age forecast higher life satisfaction. The researchers emphasized the important health consequences associated with aging attitudes. They added, “Less favorable attitudes toward aging have been linked to several detrimental psychological and physical outcomes for older adults including reduced will to live, greater cardiovascular stress, impaired cognitive, perceptual and motor functioning, and greater mortality.”
Mock, S. E., & Eibach, R. P. (2011, July 4). Aging Attitudes Moderate the Effect of Subjective Age on Psychological Well-Being: Evidence From a 10-Year Longitudinal Study. Psychology and Aging. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0023877
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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