Throughout a lifetime attitudes about aging may be very important to how healthy people are in their elderly years. Trinity College Dublin reported via EurekAlert on Jan. 29, 2016, researchers have confirmed that attitudes towards aging can have a dramatic direct effect on health. Both physical and cognitive health in later years are affected by negative attitudes about aging according to researchers. It has also been observed that cognitive ability is improved with positive attitudes towards aging.
Slower walking speed and poorer cognitive abilities were seen two years later in older adults with negative attitudes about aging in comparison to adults who had more positive attitudes about aging. This was seen irrespective of the participants’ medications, mood, and their life circumstances along with other health changes which had occurred over the same period of time.
It also seems that negative attitudes towards aging affect how different health conditions interact. In this study frail participants with negative attitudes about aging had poorer cognition in comparison to participants who were not frail. However in frail participants with positive attitudes about aging the same level of cognitive ability was seen as in their peers who were not frail.
Lead researcher Dr Deirdre Robertson says the way we think, talk and write about aging may have direct effects on our health. Everyone clearly grows older throughout their lifetime. If there are negative attitudes about aging carried throughout life this can lead to measurable detrimental effects on mental, physical and cognitive well being.
It has been suggested by principal investigator Professor Rose Anne Kenny that researchers and policy makers could work together to ultimately develop and implement societal-wide interventions aimed at targeting attitudes. The objective would be to find novel ways to maintain health in later life.
This study has been published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. It has been found by researhcers that negative perceptions of aging modify the association which is seen between frailty and cognitive function in elderly people. It appears that self-perceptions of aging are significant predictors of physical and cognitive function in older people. It is clearly important to nurture positive attitudes about aging throughout life.