Posted on Dec 17, 2010, 6 a.m.
To reach and enjoy 100+ years of age, University of Georgia (US) team reveals that maintaining a positive outlook on life is more important than biological markers of health.
In that complex interactions between biological, psychological, and sociological factors impact longevity and health, Leonard W. Poon, from the University of Georgia (Georgia, USA), and colleagues studied the impact of psychosocial domains on health and quality of life, specifically focusing on: demographics, life events, and personal history; personality; cognition; and socioeconomic resources and support systems. The team analyzed data collected for the Georgia Centenarian Study, involving 240 men and women, ages 100 and over, followed for an eight-year period. The researchers found that critical life events and personal history, along with how people adapt to stressful situations and cope with them, are crucial to the anti-aging lifestyle. Specifically, centenarians’ feelings about their own health, well-being and support systems, rather than biological measures such as blood pressure and blood sugar, were revealed to be stronger predictors of survival. Personality also determined how well the centenarians reacted to life stress and change, and therefore whether they were as happy in their old age as they were when young. Healthy 100-year-olds had personalities described as open and conscientious. Explaining that: “Evaluating comprehensive quality of life domains among centenarians is important,” the researchers conclude that: “After all, life would only be worth extending to a second century if it came with a minimum level of health, autonomy, and functioning. We conclude that … psychosocial domains are as important and have the highest potential to interact with biological and medical aspects in unearthing the secrets to exceptional longevity.”
Leonard W. Poon, Peter Martin, Alex Bishop, Jinmyoung Cho, Grace da Rosa, Neha Deshpande, Robert Hensley, Maurice MacDonald, Jennifer Margrett, G. Kevin Randall, John L. Woodard, L. Stephen Miller. “Understanding Centenarians' Psychosocial Dynamics and Their Contributions to Health and Quality of Life.” Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research, Volume 2010 (2010).