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Your Attitude Toward Aging Directly Affects Your Health

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Negative attitudes toward aging have an effect on both cognitive and physical health in the later years, according to research from Trinity College Dublin (TCD).

In a study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, researchers Dierdre Robertson and Rose Anne Kenny detailed the results of their work after analyzing the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging (TILDA) at TCD.

Based on their findings, older adults who have negative attitudes about aging had worse cognitive abilities and slower walking speeds two years later compared to what those with positive attitudes toward aging had. The result was the same even after factors like other health changes, life circumstances, mood and medication were accounted for.

Negative attitudes to aging also affected how various health conditions manifested.

In frail older adults, for instance, risks of multiple health problems, which included worse cognition, were higher. However, those with negative attitudes toward aging were reported to have worse cognitive condition compared to TILDA participants who weren't categorized as frail. And those that had positive attitudes about aging? They had the same cognitive abilities as their non-frail counterparts.

"The way we think about, talk about and write about aging may have direct effects on health," said Robertson, adding that, as everybody will grow older, looking negatively at aging throughout life will bring detrimental and measurable effects on an individual's cognitive, mental and physical health.

Kenny also said that policy makers and researchers can use the results of their study and work together toward developing and implementing societal-wide interventions to address attitudes and possibly come up with ultimate novel ways to maintain health in the later years.

Aging is inevitable but it is generally treated with a negative attitude. Just look at the thriving beauty industry geared at turning back the clock every possible way! Growing old will have its downsides but people are missing out on the chance to make the most out of it, especially that it has been shown that simply having a negative mindset about aging will negatively impact cognitive and physical health down the line.

Photo: Francisco Osorio | Flickr

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