How to Successfully Age?
I believe the most important factors in successful aging are a positive self-perception and perceived control of the individual about their own aging. Research has shown that individuals with more positive self-perceptions of aging have better functional health than those with more negative self-perceptions. These individuals demonstrated better memory performance, more controlled handwriting, faster walking, stronger will to live, and a lower cardiovascular response to stress, and fewer doctor and hospital visits (Levy, Slade, Kasl, 2002). Another study showed that Institutionalized older adults with higher “perceived control”, were happier, and more sociable. This shows that even if older adults loose some of their physical or emotional control processes, but they feel that they are somewhat in control, they might be able to have a happier life (Rodin, & Langer, 1977). It is helpful for older adults to feel a sense of usefulness and purpose in life to help their self-esteem and overall well-being. Research has shown that helplessness and hopelessness may contribute to psychological withdrawal, physical disease, and death. On the other hand, perceived control contributes to physical health and personal efficacy. As demonstrated by research performed by Langer and Rodin, 1976, in which participants that were given the options to be part of decision making as well as to take care of a plant showed increased happiness, alertness and became more active. Staying active and an engaged lifestyle is very important in successful aging. The idea of “use it or lose” is very important in cognitive functioning as part of successful aging. Some of the ideas to accomplish this are: to do crossword puzzles, brain teasers, read the newspaper and to stay socially and physically active.