We have all heard the old saying “You are only as old as you feel”. While it's good to be positive, there is little evidence to actually back up the idea that your attitude can improve how your body ages physically...until now. According to a study by the Yale School of Public Health, a positive outlook on aging can actually help you recover from a disability.
The study included 598 nondisabled seniors over age 70 from New Haven, Connecticut. Researchers interviewed these seniors every month for approximately 11 years. Participants were asked “When you think of older persons, what are the first 5 words or phrases that come to mind?” Their answers were evaluated on a scale ranking the responses as positive or negative. All of the seniors in the group developed some form of disability during the length of the study that affected their ability to perform daily tasks without assistance.
Researchers found that the seniors with a more positive stereotype of aging were 44% more likely to fully recover from their disability compared to seniors who thought negatively about aging. The positive seniors had an increased chance of recovering, meaning they could independently complete basic daily tasks critical to life functioning such as walking, bathing, dressing, and moving from a chair.
That leaves us thinking, why is our attitude so important as we age? Maybe it is connected to the idea that our health CAN be something we have control over. If we think of seniors as prone to illness and sedentary then that is the expectation we will live up to. If we think of seniors as vivacious and lively then we are more likely to stay mentally and physically active.
Something to think about…What are 5 words you would use to describe seniors? Challenge yourself adopt positive stereotypes on aging and pass that legacy to the ones you love.
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