Staying Young Is About Feeling In Control, Researchers Find
What is the secret to staying young, even as you grow older? Perceived control, suggests new research presented at the American Psychological Association’s annual convention. The more control over their lives people have, the younger they feel — and the better their cognitive abilities, life span, and overall quality of living.
“Research suggests that a younger subjective age, or when people feel younger than their chronological age, is associated with a variety of positive outcomes in older individuals, including better memory performance, health and longevity,” says study author Jennifer Bellingtier, PhD, of Friedrich Schiller University. “Our research suggests that subjective age changes on a daily basis and older adults feel significantly younger on days when they have a greater sense of control.”
The study involved 116 older participants, ages 60 to 90, and 106 younger participants, ages 18 to 36, and asked all to complete a 9-day daily survey. They rated the level of control they felt each day, by responding to statements like, “In the past 24 hours, I had quite a bit of influence on the degree to which I could be involved in activities.” They were also asked how old they felt, or their subjective age, on that given day.
Both groups exhibited differences in subjective age from day to day. Researchers found a correlation between perceived level of control and subjective age in the older group, but not the younger one.
Subjective age isn’t just about eternal youth; other studies have shown feeling younger than your years may slow aging of the brain, if not the body.
“Shaping the daily environment in ways that allow older adults to exercise more control could be a helpful strategy for maintaining a youthful spirit and overall well-being,” said Bellingtier.