The adage that age is just a number rings true as new research uncovers the important role attitude plays in helping older adults age well. A new global study found that societies with a positive view of old age can add as many as 8 years to the lives of older adults, when compared with countries that have low social respect for seniors.
The Orb Media study used global data and surveyed 150,000 people in 101 countries to gauge the level of respect seniors hold in various countries. In cultures where seniors are included in social and intergenerational family life, including Pakistan, attitudes about aging were better. Societies that consider elderly adults to be a burden don’t fare as well; seniors who don’t feel included and valued by their community are more likely to have worse mental and physical health as well as increased rates of poverty.
And even from a young age, adults who hold a positive attitude about growing old will be less likely to have a heart attack in their 60s, according to a Yale University study. People who are less stressed about aging are likely to be more active, take better care of themselves and as a result age better. A positive attitude also reduces the risk for dementia, depression and anxiety and can help patients recover better from an injury such as a broken hip.
As the world continues to age at a rapid pace, it is anticipated that by 2050 the population aged 65 and older will double. Life expectancy is also expected to rise from a today’s worldwide average of 68.6 to 76.2 by 2050. Although diet, exercise, lifestyle choices and medical advancements contribute to greater longevity, more research points to the importance of attitude toward aging as a significant factor in how well older adults age. Learn more about how attitude impacts aging by following this link to Psychology Today.