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Study suggests seniors' well-being improves with age

December 7, 2012

Obstacles in the way of healthy aging, such as mental or physical decline, may not have a significant impact on how seniors view their life, according to a recent study. Researchers from Stanford University and the University of California, San Diego found that seniors tend to feel better about their well-being than one might expect.

Known as the Successful Aging Evaluation (SAGE) study, the survey was compiled from a comprehensive phone interview and mail-in questionnaire of more than 1,000 adults between the ages of 50 and 99. Participants were asked to assess whether or not they felt they had aged successfully.

After adjusting for several factors, researchers noticed that people who felt they had aged successfully were more likely to have a higher level of education, lower levels of depression and greater optimism. This was true even in people who may have a mental or physical limitation.

"In our study, older adults had more physical disability and somewhat more memory [or] cognitive impairment than younger adults - as one would expect." principal investigator Dilip V. Jeste told The Huffington Post. "But what was unexpected was that the older adults had higher scores on self-rated successful aging. Thus, physical health and perception of one's successful aging went in opposite directions."

These are just the latest results that shift the attitude toward what constitutes healthy aging. Other research has found that seniors are one of the happiest segments of the population. In fact, an extensive study conducted from 1972 to 2004, which included around 28,000 people, found that about 33 percent of people reported being happy at age 88. That was more than the approximately 24 percent of people who felt happy at 18, according to The Associated Press.