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Emotional Stability & Happiness Is Highest At Old Age

Wed, Nov 24, 2010

Health And Aging, Longevity

Emotional Stability & Happiness Is Highest At Old Age

Laura Carstensen says that awareness of mortality is a good thing. People tend to value each moment of happiness as they get older. However, being conscious of how fragile life is, can be something good, a study says that it helps to foster both emotional balance and health.

Laura is a professor of psychology and director of the Stanford Center on Longevity. She claims that a balanced and strong emotional state of elders helps them to tackle severe problems.

In 2 decades, experts expect that the number of Americans of above 60 years will exceed that of the population below the age of 15. People do therefore, think that the country’s population will become fragile, decrepit and partly impaired. They do also foretell that this might cause a decrease in national productivity as there will be fewer younger employees.

A recent study conducted at Stanford says that the information is reliable. Conversely, there is a catch; our aging population is emotionally more stable. Laura Carstensen, the lead author of the study claims that emotional stability does often create longer and more productive lives. So the fundamental outcomes of an aging population might be a net benefit rather than obstacles.

According to Psychology professor Carstensen, emotional stability will increase. The aged population is more resilient to emotional setbacks. A rise in the number of old people will represent a change in societal artefacts. People might be more compassionate about problems and the result might be a stable world.

The study was conducted during 1993 to 2005, where Carstensen and her team involved 180 Americans in the age range from 18 to 94 years. During the study, some of the participant passed-away so more participants had to be included to assure integrity of the study.

At an interval of 5 years the participants were required to provide data for one week. They had to carry pagers, and each time the pagers buzzed the participant had to answer various questions. The answers provided were used to measure the level of happiness, comfort and satisfaction.

The study was published in the Journal Psychology and Aging. Bulent Turan & Scheibe were co-authors of the study, as well as doctoral students from Stanford while researchers for University of California’s campus in San Francisco, University of Virginia and Los Angeles.

Recent studies have demonstrated that there exists a relation between happiness and aging. Nevertheless, Carstensen’s study is the only longitudinal study proving this relation. The study examines how happiness changes over time.

Social scientists claim that the golden years are commonly reached with a smile. This research does clearly show that. This is something the aging population should keep in mind; behind the grey hair and tough life, there are some happy moments.

Additionally, the study also claims that the year of birth doesn’t affect the level of contentment at old age. People are happier at old age, irrespective, whether they are a baby boomer or from any other generation.

It was found that people had more positive emotions as they grow older. However, there was a mixture of both good and bad experience. The positive ones were more than the bad ones. For the younger subjects, there was less mixture of bad and good emotions.

For instance, Carstensen who is currently aged 56 says that she feels much happier than what she did a few decades ago. This can be slightly associated to the Carstensen’s theory on ‘socio-emotional selectivity’ which explains that people try to make the most out of time when it is limited.

On the other hand, young adults are more stressed, frustrated as well as disappointed on issues such as career goals, test scores and finding a mate. Older people have already gone through these stages and settled down in peace after a compilation of failures and successes. This explains why older adults are less stressed.

Carstensen says that an aging society is a strong resource of wisdom. In other words, aging societies might be less violent or even more compassionating communities.

Aging isn’t a gift or a spell. It can turn a young person into a grumpy old man. However, this shouldn’t be feared as growing older is tantamount to a feeling of happiness.

Source: Stanford and Physorg

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