Old age is simply a 'state of mind' – and enjoying life to the full can keep you young
People who perceive themselves as old are more likely to quit activities which could help keep them
youngKey examples include socialising and regular exercise
15:54 GMT, 16 April 2013
16:00 GMT, 16 April 2013
Age is nothing but a number, according to new research that suggests you're only as old as you let yourself feel.
A study has shown that people who perceive themselves to be old and frail are more likely to give up activities which could help to keep them young – such as socialising and taking regular exercise.
By contrast, people with a positive attitude are more likely to continue taking part in these activities which helps them to stay fit and mentally alert.
People who perceive themselves to be old and frail are more likely to give up activities which could help to keep them young
Krystal Warmoth, from the University of Exeter, believes that older people who categorise themselves as elderly and decrepit are more likely to behave as though they are.
She interviewed 29 older people in the southwest of England and asked them about their experiences of aging and fragility.
She discovered that an elderly person’s attitude could lead to a loss of interest in participating in social and physical activities, poor health, and reduced quality of life.
One respondent summed up the findings: ‘If people think that they are old and frail, they will act like they're old and frail,’ she said.
Ms Warmoth also discovered there can be a cycle of decline whereby perceiving oneself as frail can lead to a person disengaging from activities that could reduce the likelihood of frailty – such as physical exercise.
This, in turn, makes them more likely to become frail and to have a poor quality of life.
Ms Warmoth said: ‘This study gives an insight into the role of psychological factors in older adults’ health and activity levels.’
However, plenty of elderly people are clearly following Ms Warmoth’s advice.
People with a positive attitude are more likely to continue taking part in activities which help them to stay fit and mentally alert
A 2010 report from the Health
Protection Agency found a rise in the number of people in their 50s,
60s, 70s and 80s having sex with new partners since 2000.
The study also found that there had been an increase in all of the five main STDs in older age groups, with the age group 45 to 64 witnessing the biggest rise in syphilis, herpes, chlamydia and genital warts between 2000 and 2009.
Meanwhile, researchers at North Carolina State University found that elderly people who played video games had 'higher levels of well-being'.
They asked 140 people aged 63 and above how long they play games for, then put them through tests to asses their emotional and social well-being.
Sixty-one per cent of participants said they played video games 'at least occasionally', while 35 per cent said they played at least once per week.
The results of the study indicated that those who played games occasionally reported higher levels of well-being, whereas those that did not play reported 'negative emotions and a tendency toward higher levels of depression'.