Leadership (Abuja)

27 December 2012

Nigeria: Resilience Key to Feeling Good in Old Age

Despite worsening physical health and mental abilities, adults say they feel better about how they've aged as they get older, a new study finds.

Researchers surveyed about 1,000 adults ages 50 to 99 living in San Diego. Participants were interviewed over the phone to assess their physical and mental health. They were also asked to rate, on a scale of 1 to 10, how successfully they thought they had aged, with a rating of 10 being the most successful.

The average rating was 8.2, and older adults were more likely to rate their aging success more highly than those in middle age. However, older age was linked with worse physical and cognitive functioning.

A person's levels of resilience and depression seemed to be just as important as physical health in terms of the effect on successful aging, the researchers said. For instance, people with poor physical health but high levels of resilience rated themselves similarly to those who were physically healthier, but had lower resilience.

The results are in line with earlier research showing that well-being increases with age.

The findings suggest "increasing resilience and reducing depression might have effects on successful aging, as strong as the effects of reducing physical disability," the researchers write in the Dec. 7 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. "This ending points to an important role for psychiatry in enhancing successful aging in older adults, even in those with physical disabilities," they wrote.

The researchers gathered information at just one point in time, so studies that follow the same people over time are needed to confirm the results.

The study did not include people in nursing homes, and it's possible that people who would have given themselves lower ratings were not included in the study due to death or institutionalization, the researchers said. However, the researchers noted the study participants were also not unusually healthy in any particular way -- aging was still linked with worse physical health and mental abilities. Pass it on: Older adults are more likely to say they've aged successfully than adults in middle age.

Exercise Tips To Energise Your Brain

If you're over 40, you may have noticed that you don't remember things as well as you used to. You might walk into a room and forget why, or you might be hazy about past events or the time of tomorrow's dentist appointment.

A little forgetfulness now and then isn't something to be alarmed about. Lots of times it happens because you're stressed or overworked. I know I have trouble keeping things straight when I'm frazzled.

But forgetfulness can sure be inconvenient. And if you're like me, you worry about it worsening. That's why I try to keep my mind active. Instead of turning on the television, I'll do a crossword puzzle. When I'm in for a long wait at the doctor's office (or salon or auto mechanic's shop), I'll pull out my e-reader and read a chapter or two of a good book. I believe these things keep my brain in good shape. But a new study indicates that there's something even better than flexing my brain's "muscle."

In a study in researchers from the Centre for Development of Advanced Medicine for Dementia in Japan found that people who were more physically active during the day were less likely to experience brain shrinkage in their frontal lobe. The frontal lobe plays a role in problem solving, personality, judgment and memory.

So now it seems if I want to keep my wits about me, I should exercise my body as well as my brain. While I do exercise regularly, this study got me thinking about what I can do to add extra physical activity into my day. Here are some of the simple strategies I've made a part of my everyday life.

. Always take the stairs. It's tempting to use that escalator or hop in the elevator. However, that would be a missed opportunity to get some blood pumping to the brain.

. Park as far away as possible. Most of us are in the habit of finding the closest possible parking spot at work, the grocery store or the mall. When you get a prime spot, you feel as though you've won the lottery, but really all you've won is the chance to get a little less exercise - which is not a good thing.

. Plan to be active. Take the dog for a walk at the same time every day and your four-legged friend will eventually hold you to your commitment. You can also schedule regular walks with friends. The opportunity to have a great conversation with a pal may be just the motivation you need to stick to a routine.

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