They say that age is just a number and with greater longevity, many older adults are living healthier, more active lifestyles than previous generations. New research shows that mindset, feeling younger than your chronological age, is associated with thicker brain matter and a lower risk for hospitalization, dementia, and death.
According to a recent New York Times report, a 2018 South Korean study found that people who report feeling younger than their true age are typically healthier, perform better on memory tests, are more psychologically resilient, and have a reduced risk for cognitive decline. The study suggests that health care practitioners could uncover health problems earlier by asking middle-aged and older adults how old they feel.
Maintaining a youthful attitude in older age can have a significant impact on physical and cognitive performance. Cultivating a sense of purpose and community helps support a more positive view of aging. Seniors who feel younger are more likely to stay active, learn new skills, engage with people of all ages, and in turn, retain greater physical function, mental sharpness, and emotional well-being.
Having a purpose in life at any age gives meaning to each day and encourages adults to make healthy lifestyle choices like eating a nutritious diet, stopping smoking, and exercising to allow them to continue to make a valuable contribution. With more life experience, older adults can see the big picture, ride out difficulties with greater ease, and find satisfaction in daily pleasures. In short, older adults tend to be more content in their lives.
Contentment, like happiness, can be purposefully cultivated by checking in with one’s mindset. Appreciating what an aging body is still able to do, being in the moment when spending time with friends and family, and choosing to appreciate what is possible rather than lamenting what is not can help support a greater sense of fulfillment. Being mindful and grateful for each small joy increases happiness and life satisfaction – and with a spring in your step, you can’t help but feel younger.