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“You’re only as old as you feel.”   Well, according to a study by the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging at Trinity College in Dublin (TILDA), this old adage is correct.  Regardless of your current age, it’s worth noting that research finds that your attitude about aging has a noticeable impact on your overall health.

According to lead researcher Deirdre Robertson, “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.”

Clinical evidence also supports the study. It is widely reported by healthcare practitioners that how people envision their evolution through the years affects their emotional well-being, their cognitive capacities, and their susceptibility to physical illness.

The most critical takeaway from the study to focus on is the observation that participants in the study who held positive attitudes towards aging had improved cognitive ability as they aged.

Medical News Today summarized that the Trinity study resulted in these major findings.

  • Older adults with negative attitudes towards aging had slower walking speed and worse cognitive abilities two years later, compared to older adults with more positive attitudes towards aging.
  • This was true even after participants’ medications, mood, life circumstances, and other health changes had occurred over the same two-year period were accounted for.
  • Furthermore, negative attitudes towards aging seemed to affect how different health conditions interacted. Frail older adults are at risk of multiple health problems including worse cognition. In the TILDA sample frail participants with negative attitudes towards aging had worse cognition compared to participants who were not frail. However, frail participants with positive attitudes towards aging had the same level of cognitive ability as their non-frail peers.

The researchers noted that societal attitudes towards growing older are predominantly negative. And yet, everyone ages.  The unfortunate truth is. that if these attitudes persist, they will continue to diminish people’s quality of life.

So as you continue into your Golden Years, attack it with a positive attitude and you’ll be a happier, healthier person.