Want to live longer? Age really might be just a number if you have a positive attitude toward aging. A new study suggests that people who have a positive attitude toward aging may be healthier and happier. Other research supports this conclusion, pointing to the benefits of feeling young at heart. So go ahead and embrace your inner youthfulness. Age is what you make it.
Want to Live Longer? Think Positively About Aging
The research mentioned above comes from Orb Media’s Age Well study. The study merges data from several large, cross-national studies on aging and attitudes toward aging. A data analysis compared attitudes toward aging across nations, and then assigned each nation a “respect for the elderly” score. According to the data, Hungary, Uzbekistan, and Romania have the most respect for seniors, while Tanzania, South Korea, and Ukraine have the least respect.
The study also found that positive attitudes toward aging correlated with better outcomes in seniors. Countries that respect older people had lower rates of poverty among seniors. Seniors also had better physical and mental health in these nations.
This suggests that aging is more than just a natural process. Attitudes toward aging—both on the individual and cultural level—may affect how fast and how well a person ages.
Does Feeling Young Make You Younger? Maybe.
This isn’t the only study that points to the value of a positive outlook on aging. A large study published in JAMA International asked seniors how old they felt compared to how old they were. Researchers followed up eight years later. They found that just 14 percent of seniors who felt younger than their age had died, compared to 24 percent who felt older. Eighteen percent of those who felt their age had died.
The study’s authors suggest that resilience, a commitment to healthy living, and a stronger desire to keep living might help explain why those who felt younger were more likely to stay alive.
Another study, published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, suggests that how a person feels might actually provide insight into how rapidly their brain is aging. The study involved brain scans on 68 healthy seniors, each of whom also answered questions about their physical and mental health. Brain scans of seniors who felt younger than their age showed younger brains, with increased gray matter in areas associated with aging.
The study’s authors are unsure what’s causing this phenomenon, but one thing is clear: feeling youthful doesn’t just feel good; it may actually be a sign of how well a person is aging.
Cultivating a Positive Attitude About Aging
One disturbing data point in the Age Well survey was how aging people are viewed in the United States. The U.S. earned an overall respect for the elderly score of 3.29 on a scale of 1-5. This is the eighth-worst score included in the results, ranking 71st worldwide.
This can make it difficult to feel positive about aging, and harder still to access resources that make aging a more positive experience. But that doesn’t mean seniors are doomed to a frustrating old age.
The right senior living community can make a big difference. These communities are like islands of positivity in a sea of negative attitudes about aging. They feature active social lives, excellent dining, numerous classes and events, and a chance to enjoy the retirement you’ve always wanted.
This means that the right senior living community might do more than just make aging better; it could actually help you lead a longer, healthier life. Want to learn more about what senior living can do for you? Check out our free guide, The Journey to Senior Living.