Aging Awareness

Maureen Smith has absolutely no interest in being put out to pasture.

Smith said, "I stay pretty busy most of the time. I exercise on a regular basis. Just started doing cardio kickboxing."

And, she doesn't give a second thought to the fact that she is nearly 70.

Smith said, "Nope, not at all. To me age, it's a number. It's what you allow it to be."

Associate Professor of Psychology Shevaun D. Neupert, Ph.D., of North Carolina State University, and her team wanted to test if the everyday things that remind older adults of their age actually affect their health and well-being.

For nine straight days, researchers asked 116 volunteers the same questions about aging, such as, whether their thinking was slower.

"We found that, in general, it is good to feel like you have a positive outlook on your aging, that people who feel that they're just as happy now as they were when they were younger, tended to report fewer negative experiences with their aging on a daily basis," detailed Neupert.

But, that positive attitude has a delicate downside.

Neupert continued, "Those same people who felt really good about their aging, in general, were the ones who were the most vulnerable to threats to that feeling of positivity. So, on days when they did experience something that was somewhat negative related to their aging, they had a more steep increase in their bad mood."

Smith's positive outlook comes naturally, while many other older Americans have to work at it. But, research now shows, either way, the best way to age is to build resilience to face stressful situations.

Professor Neupert also says there are many good things that come with getting older, including an increased vocabulary, better emotion regulation, and stress management.
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