Aging in the News: March 2023

April 13, 2023
Explore our news round-up from March 2023. This month, we examine stories about older adults and aging in America.

What Does ‘Subjective Age’ Mean?

Feeling younger or older than your chronological age can have psychological and physiological consequences. A person’s subjective age – a concept of which is the age an individual “feels” they are – is influenced by negative age stereotypes and feeling younger can offer protection against society’s negative view of aging and lead to a more optimistic outlook. 

Feeling younger than your actual age has been associated with a longer lifespan, while feeling older can result in higher stress hormone levels and inflammatory markers linked to heart disease. In fact, a recent study finds that people who expect to continue growing and developing into old age have been found to live an average of 13 years longer than those who do not. 

To feel younger, researchers recommend trying new things, challenging yourself, traveling, spending time with positive friends, and taking new classes. Adopting healthier lifestyle choices such as exercise and a balanced diet can also help you feel younger. Studies show that by taking steps to feel younger you can achieve a more positive attitude towards aging and better overall health. 

Group Exercise Gets Older Adults Moving Solo

A recent study suggests that group exercise may be more effective than individual exercise in enhancing physical ability and lowering the likelihood of falls among older adults. The research examined information from people between the ages of 70 and 96 who participated in eight-week instructor-led group exercise classes or individual at-home workout routines. Those who participated in group exercise had better physical function, balance, and a lower risk of falls than those who did individual exercises at home. Read the full article here and be on the lookout for our Fitness and Health programming at GenSpace.

Baby Boomers Want to Age in Place. U.S. Houses Aren’t Designed for Them to Do That

As the baby boomer generation ages, more and more are looking to age in place and remain in their homes as they age. Unfortunately, most homes are not designed to accommodate the needs of older adults. For example, many homes don’t have a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor and they don’t have accessibility features like grab bars in the bathroom. According to a recent Census Bureau report, just 10% of homes in the U.S. can accommodate older residents.

The most common issues include difficulty navigating stairs and using faucets, showers, and kitchen cabinets. To accommodate aging, most seniors need to make major home repairs, with bathroom modifications being the most common, followed by accessibility modifications at the entryway or inside the home and the installation of medical emergency response systems. 

Despite these challenges, the older people get, the more likely they are to have equity in their homes, and more likely to be homeowners and have paid off their mortgages. This may provide some financial security for older adults looking to modify their homes to accommodate their needs.

Can Positive Thinking Prolong Your Life? Science Says Yes

According to recent research, maintaining strong social connections and adopting positive thinking are closely associated with healthy aging. The study found that older adults who had strong social connections had a 50% higher chance of living longer than those who were socially isolated and felt lonely. Furthermore, the research highlighted that having a fulfilling social life is equally important for long-term survival as quitting smoking and may be even more important than regular exercise and overcoming obesity. 

The researchers believe that social connections act as a “stress buffering” against negative thoughts, challenges, and illnesses that often ruminate as we age. Such a defense mechanism helps us cope better with stress, which reduces the release of hormones that can be harmful to our immune system and make us vulnerable to fatal infections, heart disease, and strokes. Strong relationships also encourage us to take better care of ourselves and provide a sense of life purpose, which are both linked to longer life. 

Researchers also highlight that our perceptions of aging affect how well we age. People aged 50 and above who had a positive outlook on aging were more successful in performing daily activities over the following 18 years than those who had a negative view of old age. 

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