As people age, they have a choice as to how they will accept the inevitable. Proverbs states, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones”. According to research at Yale University, adults who developed positive attitudes about aging lived more than seven years longer than peers who had negative attitudes.
The study investigated perceptions about aging and survival rates over a 22-year period among 660 men and women in Ohio, age 50 to 94. “Self-perceptions of aging had a greater impact on survival,” the researchers say, “than did gender, socioeconomic status, loneliness and functional health.” In fact, positive attitudes had a greater effect than lowered blood pressure, exercise, weight loss, or non-smoking status. The study expressed two simple yet profound messages. The first is that negative self-perceptions can diminish life expectancy; the second one is that positive self-perceptions can prolong life expectancy.
Research being done on aging and attitude suggests that positive thinking does correlate with less illness and longer lives. And, if you’re already older, having a positive outlook appears to be especially important.
Recovery from a disability, injury or illness in the study was equated with being able to perform four routine activities: bathing, dressing, moving from a chair and walking. Doing well in these things is associated with longer life expectancy and lower use of healthcare facilities.
In general, studies show that people who maintain a positive attitude tend to make healthier lifestyle choices. According to a Mayo Clinic study, people with a positive attitude get more physical activity and follow a healthier diet.
Here are some components that make up attitude:
– A strong sense of humor. Laugh. Laugh often. Laugh a lot.
– An ability to smile. Allow your face to demonstrate that you are a happy person.
Approach persons positively. Let them know you enjoy their presence.
– Stay focused on the person you are with. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted.
– Point out the strong points of other people. They will feel better about themselves, and you will be the reason.
– Avoid being negative about health, weather, state of affairs, etc. Doing so will ruin the goal of the day: Keep a good attitude.
Rachel Fox, Activity Director for Kingston Residence knows all too well how a positive outlook can impact the health and wellness of seniors. With over seven years of experience engaging seniors in meaningful pursuits, she has witnessed the strong impact that attitude has on their well-being. “Our residents who participate in activities, socialize with friends and wake up with a purpose tend to have longer independence and overall well-being. I recall a 95 year old named Lucy who played piano even though she suffered from COPD and required oxygen, she still brought joy to our residents through her music. She was an inspiration to us all.”
Living happily as a senior depends largely on your attitude. Aging does not need to be a time of unhappiness. It can be time of repurposing and readjusting one’s focus on gratitude and what can still be done.
Article sponsored by Kingston Residence.
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