—A Special Report from Victor Marchione, MD
Here’s some good news: after age 50, things start to look a little brighter. At least that’s according to the results from a study out of New York’s Stony Brook University.
What changes take place to give those over 50 a more positive attitude? Apparently, people who have passed the half-century mark are less stressed out and angry compared to those still in their 20’s and 30’s. And things seem to get even better for those in their 70’s and 80’s. According to the study, this age group is the least likely to report negative emotions.
This is a surprising and encouraging result, given that most seniors are struggling with physical health issues. Most seniors also have to deal with the loss of loved ones, whether they are friends or family.
Researchers at the Stony Brook University reviewed data from a 2008 Gallup phone survey of more than 340,000 people living in the U.S. Previous research has shown that younger people and older people are generally happy with their lives, while middle-age people can struggle with more negative emotions. But this latest study went into a little more depth. This time, the research team asked people what they thought of themselves and asked specific questions about their emotions. According to the researchers, there was a definite spike in emotions like anger and worry for those in their 20’s, with a slow and steady decline all the way along for those who had reached their 80’s.
The researchers suggest that, as people get older, they stop looking forward and instead begin appreciating what they have. It seems the older crowd is actually more able to live in the “now.” The study will hopefully dispel some stereotypes about older people. And maybe it will make all of us dread older age less if we know that it’s possible to be older and happier.
The researchers are hoping that studies such as this one can help policymakers and others to understand what makes people happy and, by doing so, help to make the world a better place for all us.