Ageing: study shows how people can live much longer
Most people want to live as long as possible. It is clear that a healthy lifestyle with enough exercise and a balanced diet can help achieve more years of life. But psychosocial factors also play an important role, a new study shows. It shows how people can live much longer.
The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, shows that people live 13 years longer when they view aging as a developmental process. Researchers from the University Medical Center Greifswald have been able to prove in their scientific work that people who associate personal goals and plans with aging can expect a much longer life.
13 years difference in life expectancy
Prolonging life: a dream of humanity that biological research, nutritional medicine or so-called anti-aging medicine promise to realize. Psychosocial factors are often overlooked.
According to a statement from the University of Greifswald, Professor Dr. Susanne Wurm and Dr. Sarah Schäfer, based on survival time analyses, came to the conclusion that aging can lead to a difference in life expectancy 13 years old.
In 1996, 2,400 participants in the German Aging Survey, aged between 40 and 85 at the time, were asked about their view of their own aging. Over the next 23 years, who died when was documented was a total of 871 people.
“We already knew from a 2002 US study by BR Levy, which also followed 660 people over 23 years, that people with a positive view of aging lived seven years longer.”explains Professor Susanne Wurm.
“Our study now provides more comprehensive evidence for Germany that people who experience aging as a developmental process actually live 13 years longer.”explains the head of the department for prevention research and social medicine at the Institute for Community Medicine at the University Medical Center Greifswald.
As a recognized aging researcher, she has studied the role of images of aging (perceptions of aging and old age) for health and longevity for many years.
Different perspectives on aging
The world’s population is aging faster and more severely than ever. This demographic transition will affect almost all areas of life in society.
This is why the World Health Organization (WHO) has proclaimed the years 2021 to 2030 as the decade of healthy aging and has set itself the goal of challenging images of age and reducing the discrimination based on age.
Unlike the older study, age diversity was now also examined. The scientists not only examined the role of generally positive images of aging for longevity, but also differentiated between the different perspectives on aging that people have regarding individual areas of life.
This allowed them to compare which of these perspectives are actually significant for longevity.
Reconciling aging and personal development
“A lot of people don’t see aging only in positive or negative terms. On the contrary, they distinguish between the different areas of life.explains Professor Wurm.
According to their statements, researchers have now been able to show for the first time that people live longer who combine aging with personal development, that is, who want to realize many ideas and projects and continue to learn new things.
As Wurm points out, it is remarkable that it is relatively unimportant to a long life whether people associate aging with physical or social losses.
“We know from many other studies which psychological and health-related factors contribute to longevity. We took this into account in our study to ensure that images of aging can explain longevity beyond the factors already known. And it is indeed the case”adds co-author Dr. Sarah Berger.
According to Wurm, the results give good indications that we should first and foremost help people to actively shape their aging process.
“The enemy of healthy aging is the attitude of limiting yourself because it’s too late for that plan or activity. People learn negative images of aging throughout their lives and therefore tend to apply to themselves when they are old. It is important to break this self-discrimination of age”, summarizes the scientist. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
- University of Greifswald: Change for old age: live much longer without miracle and anti-aging pills, (Accessed: March 29, 2022), University of Greifswald
- Wurm, S., & Schäfer, SK: Self-perceptions of aging related to gains but not to losses predict mortality over a 23-year period: a multidimensional approach.; in: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, (consulted on: 03/29/2022), Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.