People get happier as they age

August 8th, 2009 - 12:46 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Aug 8 (ANI): People get happier as they age and exert more emotional control than younger adults, say researchers.

“Life expectancy changed because people changed the way they lived,” said Dr Lauren Carstensen.

“Now that we’re here, we have to keep adapting. We are in the middle of a second revolution and it’s up to us to make adulthood itself longer and healthier,” Carstensen added.

Dr Susan Turk Charles, of the University of California, Irvine found that except for people with dementia-related diseases, mental health generally improves with age.

Citing a study, which looked at three groups of people, each at different stages in their lives, the researchers also found that emotional happiness improved with age.

She said the research has also shown that older adults exert greater emotional control than younger adults, meaning older adults are more likely to actively avoid or limit negative, stressful situations than do younger adults.

The findings revealed that younger adults focused more on the negative comments and demanded more information about the origin of the criticism. Older adults were less likely to dwell on the negative comments and their responses were less negative overall compared to those of the younger adults.

“Based on work by Carstensen and her colleagues, we know that older people are increasingly aware that the time they have left in life is growing shorter,” said Charles.

“They want to make the best of it so they avoid engaging in situations that will make them unhappy. They have also had more time to learn and understand the intentions of others which help them to avoid these stressful situations,” she added.

The findings were presented at the 117th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association. (ANI)

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