Positive attitude about aging could boost health

August 24, 2022 – People with more positive attitudes about growing old tend to live longer and healthier lives than those with negative thoughts about aging, according to recent research.

A study of 14,000 adults over age 50, co-authored by experts at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, found that the people who had the highest satisfaction with aging had a 43% lower risk of dying from any cause over a four-year period compared with those who were the least satisfied. The study also found that people more satisfied with the aging process had lower risk for conditions such as diabetes, stroke, cancer, and heart disease; better cognitive functioning; were more likely to engage in physical activity and less likely to have trouble sleeping; were less lonely and depressed; and were more optimistic with a greater sense of purpose.

“There’s a connection between mindsets and health behaviors,” said Eric Kim, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and an affiliate researcher at the Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in an August 19, 2022 article in American Heart Association News. “One leads to the other.”

Kim offered suggestions on how to develop a more positive attitude about aging:

  • Maintain a sense of purpose by finding projects that align with your values
  • Reject negative stereotypes about aging, such as the idea that poor physical health is inevitable for older adults
  • Stay socially active, for instance by joining a club or getting involved with a community organization
  • Try new activities or teach skills or crafts to others

Read the American Heart Association News article: How you feel about aging could affect health. Here’s how to keep the right attitude.