Positive Attitude Often Leads to Better Health

by Lois Etienne on February 7, 2011

in Senior Health and Safety

Q.    I like to think that I am a senior with a sunny outlook on life. Does this matter when it comes to overall health?

Existing research does indicate a direct correlation between attitude and feeling good. Positive emotions do, in fact, influence healthy outcomes for older people.

“We all age. It is how we age, however, that determines the quality of our lives,” said Anthony Ong of Cornell University, author of the review article in Current Directions in Psychological Science. The data he reviews suggest that positive emotions may be a powerful antidote to stress, pain and illness.

There are several pathways through which a positive attitude can protect against poor health later in life. For example, happier people might take a proactive approach to aging by regularly exercising and budgeting time for a good night’s sleep.

On the other hand, these people may avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and risky sex. The benefits of these healthy lifestyle choices may become more important in older adults, as their bodies become more susceptible to disease.

An optimistic outlook also has been shown to combat stress, a known risk factor for a lot of disease. Studies have found that people with stronger positive emotions have lower levels of chemicals associated with inflammation related to stress. Also, by adopting a positive attitude people may even be able to undo some of the physical damage caused by stress.

Research has uncovered an interesting paradox: Despite the notable loss of physical function throughout the body, a person’s emotional capacity seemed to stay consistent with age.

So staying upbeat definitely can make a difference in your life, as can making important contributions to society. Many older adults volunteer or even continue working. One profession that attracts seniors is caregiving. That’s because older adults can often relate the best to other seniors. Home Instead Senior Care hires senior CAREGivers to assist other older adults in their homes with such tasks as companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping and shopping.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: