For a long time, old age has been associated with despair and unhappiness. However, there are many people for whom aging is not all bad. Instead, it becomes a key to happiness and bliss for them. Older adults tend to be more positive and optimistic, as observed by a 2016 study titled “Paradoxical Trend for Improvement in Mental Health With Aging: A Community-Based Study of 1,546 Adults Aged 21-100 Years.”
In the study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, the researchers showed that although older adults witnessed a rapid deterioration in their physical and cognitive health, there was linear improvement in their mental health. The elderly people were rated higher on the Happiness Subscale, as well as on the reverse-coded Anxiety Scale and the Depression Scale. They also fared better on various other parameters, such as the level of well-being, happiness, satisfaction with life, and susceptibility to mental disorders like depression and anxiety.
Surprisingly, people who had the highest levels of stress, anxiety and depression were mostly in their 20s and 30s. Apparently, the 20s and the 30s are associated with the peaks in physical fitness and cognitive functioning. However, due to the alarming stress levels at this age, younger people lack emotional regulation that is more profound in the elderly.
Elderly people more resilient than younger ones
As per the researchers, the myth that old age is associated with an increased occurrence of depression and anxiety owing to various sociopsychological factors, like social isolation, financial difficulties and physical infirmities, does not hold true anymore. While many of these factors may be present in some seniors, they know how to handle hardships of life better and be resilient to the ever-growing stress. Admittedly, as people get older, they also become wiser.
While there is a decline in physical and cognitive well-being, the same is not apparent with regard to mental well-being. Dr. Brent Forester, M.D., director of the Geriatric Mood Disorders Program at McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts, said, “What this and other studies have shown is that there is a fair amount of resilience and wisdom in older adults, and those two key characteristics are highlighted in this study. These allow older adults to handle adversity better and function well despite perhaps having disabilities that would be impairing to others without those characteristics.”
Healthier lifestyles can slow brain ageing
By making adequate lifestyle changes and eating and sleeping well, one can keep the brain in a healthy condition for a long time. This can help prevent the process of brain aging, which usually starts during midlife. As with other vital organs in the body, the health of the brain is dependent on what a person eats. Those who follow a Mediterranean diet, that is high on Omega 3 oils, greens and legumes can prolong their brain health.
While being mentally ill can be excruciatingly painful in the beginning, it can get better with treatment. One can easily regain the sense of optimism to develop a healthy mind and body by availing the right treatment. For this, information related to good treatment is essential to recover effectively. Although stress is a part of life, it is important to get rid of it whenever it becomes overwhelming. One can get involved in stress-releasing activities, such as taking a walk, reading, listening to music, etc.
If you or your loved one is suffering from any kind of mental illness, contact the California Mental Health Helpline to learn about various mental health facilities in California. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-559-3923 or chat online with our representatives who can guide you to one of the best mental health centers in California.