Did You Know That Aging Can Directly Affect Your Health?
Written by: Justin Cowart
The Irish Longitudinal Study on aging (TILDA) at the Trinity College in Dublin has brought in new evidence that helps to reveal that participants of their latest study that were able to hold positive attitudes towards their aging had improved cognitive abilities. This indicates that our negative attitudes towards aging can affect not only our physical health, but also our cognitive health in later years.
The Study’s Key findings:
- Older adults that have negative attitudes towards aging typically had slower walking speeds and even worse cognitive abilities just two years later, when compared to older adults who held a more positive attitude towards their aging.
- This was true even after the participants’ mood, life circumstances, medications and other health changes that had occurred over the exact same two-year period were also accounted for.
- The negative attitudes towards aging showed evidence of just how different health conditions interacted. Older, more frail adults were at a greater risk of multiple health problems, including worsened cognition.
- In the TILDA sample, the frailer participants that had negative attitudes towards aging tended to have worse cognition when compared to participants who were not frail. Yet frail participants who held positive attitudes towards their aging had the same level of cognition as their non-frail peers.
Lead researcher, Dr. Deirdre Robertson, spoke about these findings by commenting,
“The way we think about, talk about and write about aging may have direct effects on health. Everyone will grow older and if negative attitudes towards aging are carried throughout life they can have a detrimental, measurable effect on mental, physical and cognitive health.”
Professor Rose Anne Kenny, the principal investigator of TILDA, added to the comments of Dr. Robertson by saying,
“Researchers and policy makers can work together to develop and implement societal-wide interventions to target attitudes and perhaps, ultimately, find novel ways of maintaining health in later life.”
Data from TILDA helps by providing a unique opportunity to study the attitudes towards aging as it tracks general health changes over time in a nationally representative sample of community-dwelling older adults.
These latest findings have discovered important implications for policymakers, practitioners, the media and society. The societal attitudes towards aging are normally predominantly negative. It is a natural way of life that you will grow older, but through the findings of this study, they have shown that if you are able to keep a positive attitude towards your aging, you should be able to see an even better quality of life.
We would love to hear your thoughts and opinions about this topic in the comments below!
Justin Cowart is a writer and researcher that loves to learn more about health, life, consciousness and making the world a better place. He loves music, traveling, meditation, video games and spending time with family and friends. He believes in baby steps and lifestyle changes in order to live a full life. In 2014, he lost around 40lbs from baby steps and emotional detoxing.
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