weekly blog--one for the ages
One day early this week...Welcome to the year 2018. Believe it or not, there are upsides to getting older. Research suggests that people who were in older life were happier, more satisfied, less depressed, had less anxiety, and less perceived stress than younger respondents.
According to one of the authors of a new study, when people face endings they tend to shift from goals about exploration and expanding horizons to ones about savoring relationships and focusing on meaningful activities. “When you focus on emotionally meaningful goals, life gets better, you feel better, and the negative emotions become less frequent and more fleeting when they occur,” she said.
Research also suggests that improved mental health in old age could be due to the wisdom people acquire as they grow older. Another possible explanation could stem from the physiology of the brain. Brain-imaging studies show that older people are less responsive to stressful images than younger people.
For example, when scientists showed older and younger adults pictures of a smiling baby, an image designed to make everyone happy, both groups exhibited increased activation in the part of the brain associated with emotion. However, while a disturbing image of a car accident evoked a lot of activity in the emotional region of the brain of young people, older people had a much more subdued response.
Another important research finding: despite our culture’s obsession with youth, it turns out that the 20s and 30s are generally a very stressful time for many young adults because of the many pressures unique to this life phase including establishing a career, finding a life partner and navigating financial issues.