Our general mental health improves with age
As we get older, our physical health deteriorates. Our cognitive skills and memory also suffer. But there is also good news for all older people. Researchers found that overall mental health even improved. These include, for example, mood, well-being and the ability to cope with stress.
Certainly there are some disadvantages to our health in old age. However, the scientists from the UC San Diego Center for Healthy Aging found out in an investigation that age also brings health benefits. We can cope with stress more easily, our well-being is better and we are happier. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Journal of Clinical Psychology".
Researchers interviewed more than 1,500 subjects
A survey of more than 1,500 Americans ages 21 to 99 found that people between 20 and 30 were most often stressed and depressed, the authors say. Older people and especially people over 90 years of age were most satisfied. The scientists found a clear and linear relationship between age and mental health in their work. The older the people, the happier and happier they were, the experts add.
Age has clear emotional benefits
The consistency was really striking, says author Dilip Jeste of the UC San Diego Center for Healthy Aging. Older people were just happier, happier, less depressed and less stressful. The experts on the psychology of aging further explained that the new findings show the clear emotional benefits of aging.
Older people are changing their general views on life
Despite the many well-documented health disadvantages of age, there is an improvement in emotional well-being, say the doctors. At first glance, this seems paradoxical. Exact reasons could be varied. For example, the elderly are changing their general views of life because they recognize that their remaining time on earth is finite, the scientists explain. With this insight, many older people broaden their horizons, focus on meaningful activities and enjoy their lives. Many older people are also available for volunteer work. It has already been found that such voluntary work improves mental health in old age.
Does more wisdom lead to more satisfaction?
Improved mental health in old age could also be due in part to the fact that older people are becoming wiser. This wisdom is a so-called mutli-component personality trait that includes empathy, compassion, self-knowledge, openness to new ideas, determination and emotional regulation, the experts say. As we get older, we make better social decisions. This is due to the greater experience that we have gained throughout our lives. Wisdom has a direct impact on such decisions, author Jeste explains.
The physiology of the brain is responsible for the increased satisfaction?
Another possible explanation for the emotional benefits of aging could be from the physiology of the brain. Brain studies show that older people are generally better at dealing with stressful images. When the scientists showed old and young people the images of a smiling baby, the areas of the brain associated with emotions activated in both groups. The image of a car accident caused a lot of activity in the emotional area of the brain of young people. The elderly showed a much lower reaction, the doctors explain.
Young people have the most fears and depression
We are trying more and more to stop our aging. There are many supposed miracle cures for a longer youth to buy here, but we also try to stay young longer through nutrition and sporting activity. Recently researchers have investigated whether the aging process is slowed down more by endurance or strength training.
Another important result of the current study is that young people go through a very stressful time with many fears and depressions, the experts say. It may well be that age is associated with a reduction in mental health risk factors. Older adults may just not have to deal with so many stress factors. (as)