According to a recent 25-minute phone interview study (we’ll tell you who later), the average 77 year old senior gave themselves a hearty pat on the back and high self-ratings for successful aging. Contributing factors were higher education and a continuing thirst for learning, good memory skills considering everyone forgets something now and again, good mental health, less depression, and a good dose of optimism and resilience.
Participants were asked to rate how well they thought they’d “successfully aged,” using a 10-point scale. Surprisingly, even those with physical issues and some depression scored the same as physically healthy people with moderate to severe depression. Oddly enough, everyone reported that they felt that their well-being had improved with age!
Bottom line? If you work with seniors, or take care of an aging parent, optimism is the key to successful aging. Keep your seniors engaged with others, helping and advising young children, learning about the world around them in books and movies, listening to great music, playing games, interacting with other people and pets. In other words, replace depression with optimism.
Oh yes, the study was conducted on 1,006 older adults between 50 and 99 by researchers from the San Diego School of Medicine and Stanford University, and is published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.