At a pool party this summer, Johnnie Cooper got on the diving board and executed a perfect jump. The occasion? His 90th birthday.
“I’ve always looked forward to this age,” said Cooper, who lives in Huntsville, Alabama, and is retired from the US Army Aviation and Missile Command. “You no longer have many of the struggles you had. “There is much more peace.”
His enthusiasm for growing older could be part of the reason he has lived such a long and rich life. Experts are increasingly finding that a positive mindset is associated with good aging.
A decades-long study of 660 people published in 2002 showed that Those who had positive beliefs about aging lived seven and a half years longer than those who had negative opinions about it.. Since then, research has found that a positive mindset toward aging is associated with . Research also shows that people with more positive views on aging are more likely to take preventive health measures—like exercising—which, in turn, can help them live longer.
You can’t stop the passage of time, but you don’t have to fear it either.
Negative stereotypes about aging are everywhere. Holding negative beliefs about aging can affect our view of the process — and our health, said Becca Levy, author of “Break the Boundaries of Age: Change Your Beliefs About Aging and Live Longer and Better.” A 2009 study found that people in their 30s who held negative stereotypes about aging were significantly more likely to experience a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, later in life than those with positive stereotypes.
In a 2014 study, 100 adults—average age 81—exposed to positive images of aging showed better perceptions of aging and improved physical function.
If aging is associated solely with a loss or limitation, “we don’t get a complete picture of what it means to grow older,” said Regina Koepp, a psychologist specializing in aging. Instead, she said, “you have to look for role models and see who is doing well.
“It doesn’t have to be a person who at 90 is jumping off a diving board,” Koepp said. He could simply be someone who attends a yoga class every week or volunteers for a cause.
Research suggests that optimistic women are more likely to live past 90 than less optimistic women, regardless of their race or ethnicity. But thinking more positively about aging doesn’t mean covering up real worries with happy thoughts—or using phrases like “The years don’t pass because of you!” as a compliment.
Melinda Ginne, 74, a California psychologist specializing in aging, said we must try to look at honest reality with optimism. If you feel discouraged because your tennis performance is not as good at age 70, she said, she remembers: “No, I can’t play tennis like I did when I was 50, and I can only play 10 minutes. But I can still play.”
To feel more positive about aging, examine your worries and then reflect on how worrying those worries really are.
Koepp, 47, has been having a problem with his left hip. “I’ll say I’m old because I feel stiff and creaky,” she said. “But then I think, well, my right hip isn’t stiff or creaky, and it’s the same age.”
You can focus on what you gain from getting older. Research has shown that emotional well-being generally increases with age and certain aspects of cognition, such as conflict resolution, often improve in old age.
Changing any mentality is difficult. But if you can, Koepp said, it can allow you to see yourself more clearly “as a person with life experience and wisdom” as you age.
By: HOLLY BURNS
BBC-NEWS-SRC: http://www.nytsyn.com/subscribed/stories/6952149, IMPORTING DATE: 2023-10-24 18:30:06