Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Old As You Want To Be: Study Finds Most Seniors Feel Younger

Date:
December 5, 2008
Source:
University of Michigan
Summary:
Older people tend to feel about 13 years younger than their chronological age. Researchers analyzed the responses of 516 men and women age 70 and older who participated in the Berlin Aging Study, tracking how their perceptions about age and their satisfaction with aging changed over a six-year period.

Older people tend to feel about 13 years younger than their chronological age.
Credit: iStockphoto/Carmen Martνnez Banϊs

Older people tend to feel about 13 years younger than their chronological age.

Related Articles


That is one of the findings of a study forthcoming in the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Science. The researchers analyzed the responses of 516 men and women age 70 and older who participated in the Berlin Aging Study, tracking how their perceptions about age and their satisfaction with aging changed over a six-year period.

"People generally felt quite a bit younger than they actually were, and they also showed relatively high levels of satisfaction with aging over the time period studied," said Jacqui Smith, a psychologist at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR). Smith conducted the study with colleagues Anna Kleinspehn-Ammerlahn and Dana Kotter-Gruehn at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.

"We examined individual changes over time, and expected the gap to increase. But we were surprised to find that it was maintained, on average. Perhaps feeling about 13 years younger is an optimal illusion in old age," Smith said.

Smith and colleagues found that some of the oldest participants did feel even younger over time. But poor health reduced the gap between felt age and actual age.

The researchers also assessed how old people thought they looked, asking them: "How old do you feel when you look at yourself in a mirror?" They responded by selecting an age on a scale that ranged from 0 to 120 years. In general, at the start of the study people said they looked about 10 years younger than they were. By the end of the study, this gap had narrowed; people felt they looked only about seven years younger than their chronological age.

In general, women perceived their appearance as being closer to their actual age, Smith said. "Women saw themselves as about four years older than their male peers," she said. "There are several likely reasons for this gender gap in subjective physical age. One is that women may be more aware of their appearance than men, especially given the negative stereotypes of older bodies."

To assess satisfaction with aging, researchers asked participants to what extent they agreed with these five statements: "Things keep getting worse as I get older;" "I have as much pep as I had last year;" "As I get older, I am less useful;" "As I get older, things are better than I thought they would be;" and "I am as happy now as I was when I was younger."

Initially, men were more satisfied than women with their own aging. But over the six-year period studied, men's satisfaction decreased more than women's. Poor health magnified these patterns, Smith said.

According to Smith, examining changes in how people feel about the aging process in old age can provide important indicators about the resilience and vitality of the older self. In unpublished research based on the Berlin Aging Study, she and colleagues have found that people who feel younger are less likely to die than those who don't, given the same level of chronological age and equivalent physical health.

"Feeling positive about getting older may well be associated with remaining active and experiencing better health in old age," she said. "Thus, studies on self-perceptions of aging can contribute to our understanding of potential indicators of resilience in older adults and the aging self."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Michigan. "Old As You Want To Be: Study Finds Most Seniors Feel Younger." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081202153521.htm>.
University of Michigan. (2008, December 5). Old As You Want To Be: Study Finds Most Seniors Feel Younger. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081202153521.htm
University of Michigan. "Old As You Want To Be: Study Finds Most Seniors Feel Younger." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081202153521.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

The Toronto Star (Jan. 27, 2015) — Model schools are rethinking how they engage with the community to help enhance the lives of the students and their parents. Video provided by The Toronto Star
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Rooftop Comedy (Jan. 26, 2015) — A man in Texas saved every penny he found for 65 years, and this week he finally cashed them in. Bank tellers at Prosperity Bank in Slaton, Texas were shocked when Ira Keys arrived at their bank with over 500 pounds of loose pennies stored in coffee cans. After more than an hour of sorting and counting, it turned out the 81 year-old was in possession of 81,600 pennies, or $816. And he&apos;s got more at home! Video provided by Rooftop Comedy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) — More schools are using online classes to keep from losing time to snow days, but it only works if students have Internet access at home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

BuzzFeed (Jan. 24, 2015) — Did you back it up? Do you even know how to do that? Video provided by BuzzFeed
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins