Harvard Women's Health Watch

Positive outlook speeds recovery

Do you see getting older as a positive, or a negative experience? A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association finds that having a good attitude about aging might help you recover better from a health setback. The study recruited 598 people (most of them women) from a Connecticut health plan. Participants were interviewed once a month and filled out home-based assessments over a 10-year period. Their age stereotypes were assessed based on the words they used to describe getting older (ranging from positive terms like "spry," to negative terms such as "decrepit"). People who had a positive attitude toward aging were 44% more likely to recover from disability than those with a more negative attitude. They were also more capable of going about their daily activities. More research is needed to determine whether programs to improve attitudes about aging might help older adults live more independently.

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