Many studies have shown that people who feel younger are able to live longer but how exactly can you keep this youthful state of mind in one age?
Link Between Perceived Age and Longevity
A 2014 study published in journal JAMA Internal Medicine claimed that people can lower their death rates by simply changing their mindset. The study was conducted at the University College of London by two researchers who collected data from 6,489 male and female participants with an average age of 65.8 years.
The study showed that the participants felt closer to an average age of 56.8 with 69.6 per cent of them admitting they perceived their mental age to be three of four years younger than their actual age. In contrast, 25.6 per cent of the participants said that their self-perceived age was closed to their real one whereas only 4.8 per cent felt older than they actually were.
When researchers compared the data on self-perceived ages to the participants’ death rates, they discovered that people who felt younger were more likely to live longer than those who felt older than they actually were.
This isn’t to say that other factors like disabilities and overall health condition were any less important in determining the death rate, but even after these factors were taken into account, researchers noticed a 41 per cent lowered risk of mortality in people who felt younger in comparison to those who felt old.
Scientists still need to conduct further assessment to find out what’s driving this strange phenomenon but the researchers offer the explanation that people with a more youthful state of mind have more resilience and a stronger will to live.
The authors of the study explained that if self-perceived age has the potential to help people live a longer and healthier life, people who feel older should be targeted with public messages promoting positive self-perception and healthy attitude towards aging.
How to Achieve a Youthful Mindset
Now a new study is showing the way towards achieving a youthful mindset in old age and it has one message for elderly adults: take control.
Postdoctoral psychology researcher Jennifer Bellingtier, from Germany’s Friedrich Schiller University says that people feel more in control on days when they able to come above their average control perceptions, and when they feel more in control, they end up feeling younger than they actually are.
Bellingtier, who has been studying behavioral psychology for most part of her career, discovered this method through her research, presented at this year’s annual American Psychological Association (APA) convention. The study, which hasn’t been featured in scientific journal yet, involves 116 adult participants from the age of 60 to 90 as well as a younger test group of 106 adults ranging from 18 years to 36 years of age.
The participants were followed for nine days during which they were asked how they felt at the end of each day, how in-control they felt of the actions they took how old they felt each time they were surveyed. There have been many researches in the past showing that subjective age can fluctuate on a day-to-day basis depending on your daily experiences.
This was definitely true for people in the study who experienced changes in their perceived age with each day. However, in the older group of participants, these fluctuations had a direct link with how in-control they felt.
On days they felt less in control of their lives, the participants said that they felt much older whereas the younger participants experienced fluctuations in their subjective age whenever they felt a change in their health or stress levels.
Bellingtier says that when people are more aware of how their actions can impact their state of mind, they are more likely to take control and make healthier choices. This boost in mental health, in turn, lowers the subjective age and increases longevity. According to the study, a lowered subjective age can give individuals more resilience and make them feel like they can accomplish more in life.
This new sense of accountability motivates them to make better nutritional choices or exercise more often. Elderly adults who felt younger than their chronological age were able to reduce their risk of dementia and improve mental health. This only goes to show that your subjective age is as important to your health as longevity.