Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Reaching 100 years of age may be more about attitude and adaptation than health history, study finds

Date:
December 2, 2010
Source:
University of Georgia
Summary:
Researchers have provided new clues on surviving to be 100 years old, finding that how we feel about ourselves and our ability to adapt to an accumulation of challenging life experiences may be as or more important than health factors.

Happy senior couple. The research found that critical life events and personal history, along with how people adapt to stressful situations and cope with them are crucial to explaining successful aging.
Credit: iStockphoto/Jacob Wackerhausen

University of Georgia research has provided new clues on surviving to be 100 years old, finding that how we feel about ourselves and our ability to adapt to an accumulation of challenging life experiences may be as or more important than health factors.

The research, published in the current edition of the journal Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research, used data collected as part of the Georgia Centenarian Study, one of only two centenarian studies in the country, to measure psychological and social factors in addition to genetics and health of so-called expert survivors. Two hundred forty-four people age100 years or older were studied between 2001 and 2009. The research found that critical life events and personal history, along with how people adapt to stressful situations and cope with them are crucial to explaining successful aging.

"Understanding health in these terms has huge implications for quality of life," said Leonard Poon, director of the Institute of Gerontology in the UGA College of Public Health and lead author of the study. "What is happening to you matters, but more importantly, it is your perception of what is happening to you that is really important for your individual health."

A majority of past research on the oldest of the old focused on health factors, but the researchers found that centenarians' feelings about their own health, well-being and support systems, rather than measures such as blood pressure and blood sugar are stronger predictors of survival, said Poon.

Personality also determined how well the centenarians reacted to life stress and change, and therefore whether they were as happy in their old age as they were when young. Healthy 100-year-olds had personalities described as open and conscientious. Neurotic personalities tended to be less healthy, the study found.

An individual confronted with a stressful situation can either find a quick emotional solution or ruminate on the problem, explained Poon. "One is very destructive in terms of general well-being," he said, "and the other is very adaptive."

Other research drawing from the Georgia Centenarian Study compared physical function of the elderly living in the community with those living in retirement facilities and found that physical activity decreased by approximately one-third when community residents moved to retirement facilities.

A decrease in physical activity accelerates a decline in health, explained Elaine Cress, professor in the Institute of Gerontology and lead author of a related study published in the current issue of the journal Gerontology.

"By understanding physical decline in functioning, caregivers can help maintain a high quality of life for the centenarian with appropriate support," said Cress, who also is a faculty member in the department of kinesiology in the UGA College of Education. "We developed a scale to assess physical performance, which has not been done before with centenarians. This can be used in future research to predict when people are going to start needing more help. They need to know how to plan, and society needs to know how to plan, too.

Although still rare, centenarians are a growing segment of the population. Poon notes there were an estimated 50,454 in 2000, but the number is expected to rise to more than 800,000 by 2050, making accurate information about their well-being increasingly important.

Poon added that one phenomenon that occurs all over the world is that women live longer than men. In industrialized countries such as the U.S., France and Japan, five to six women reach 100 years for every man who does. Only Sardinia has a one-to-one ratio. At the opposite extreme, 13 South Korean women live to be 100 for every man.

"Our next phase is to go to four different countries where there are different gender survival ratios and see why they are the same, why they are different and what makes women live longer than men," said Poon.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Georgia. The original article was written by Kirk McAlpin. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Leonard W. Poon, Peter Martin, Alex Bishop, Jinmyoung Cho, Grace da Rosa, Neha Deshpande, Robert Hensley, Maurice MacDonald, Jennifer Margrett, G. Kevin Randall, John L. Woodard, L. Stephen Miller. Understanding Centenarians' Psychosocial Dynamics and Their Contributions to Health and Quality of Life. Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research, 2010; 2010: 1 DOI: 10.1155/2010/680657

Cite This Page:

University of Georgia. "Reaching 100 years of age may be more about attitude and adaptation than health history, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101201105338.htm>.
University of Georgia. (2010, December 2). Reaching 100 years of age may be more about attitude and adaptation than health history, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101201105338.htm
University of Georgia. "Reaching 100 years of age may be more about attitude and adaptation than health history, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101201105338.htm (accessed July 27, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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