Happiness Grows With Age, Researchers Say

Happiness Grows With Age, Researchers Say

Good news: You’re getting older — and happier. Forget what you’ve heard about grumpy old men. Studies show life seems sweeter with age. Older adults feel more content with their lives as they age, according to a new analysis of self-reported life satisfaction and well-being.

Most recently, Angelina R. Sutin, PhD, of the Florida State University College of Medicine in Tallahassee, and colleagues at the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD, pulled data from two large-scale long-term studies, the NIH’s Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging and the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Together, the studies contain 30 years’ worth of well-being and health information on several thousand people.

In analyzing the data, the researchers exposed two interesting trends. The first: Life satisfaction increased with age. Second, the year a person is born plays a role in their well-being later in life. Their findings, published in Physiological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, build on previous research suggesting happiness increases with age, generally moving in a U-shaped curve over the course of a lifetime.

A 2012 study, led by Saverio Stranges, MD, PhD, of the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, found disposition improves after middle age despite declining physical ability. In a Gallup poll from 2008, self-reported happiness levels were higher among people over 50. The findings of that poll were later analyzed and confirmed in a study led by Arthur A. Stone, PhD, of Stony Brook University in New York.

Experts theorize that the greater happiness observed in older adults may have something to do with their better ability to cope with life’s little disappointments, and the fact that they may feel less pressure and have lower expectations, and may be better at just letting things go.

But the authors of this most recent study also discovered that overall well-being depended on the year in which a person was born. People born early in the 20th century, for example — most notably those who lived through the Great Depression — scored lower levels of well-being compared to people born in later years. This trend suggests that factors like economic prosperity and educational opportunities play a long-term role in a person’s well-being, even as things get better.

Mood researchers also says happiness has a hand in physical health — it’s linked to lower stress and better decision-making and memory skills, for example. And in seniors, positive feelings benefit brain power, according to an Ohio State University study published earlier this week Cognition and Emotion.

Here at Southgate at Shrewsbury, the health and happiness of our residents is our number one priority. Our community was designed with an energetic, exciting, sophisticated lifestyle in mind. We provide our residents with peace of mind and a sense of security, along with unsurpassed amenities, service, and hospitality.  There is no better place to enthusiastically embrace the coming years than here at Southgate.