Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Social & environmental factors play important role in how people age

13.09.2004


Why do some older people experience a rapid decline in their physical and functional health while some of their peers remain healthy and active? While your genes and overall physical health play a role, new research shows how psychosocial factors can also play an important role. Two studies report on this in the September issue of Psychology and Aging, a journal published by the American Psychological Association (APA).



In the first study, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found a link between positive emotions and the onset of frailty in 1,558 initially non-frail older Mexican Americans living in five southwestern states – Texas, California, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. This was the first study to examine frailty and the protective role of positive emotions in the largest minority population in the United States.

Study authors Glenn Ostir, Ph.D., Kenneth Ottenbacher, Ph.D., and Kyriakos Markides, Ph.D., followed the participants for seven years and assessed frailty by measuring the participants’ weight loss, exhaustion, walking speed and grip strength. Positive affect (positive emotions) was measured during the study period by asking the participants how often in the last week "I felt that I was just as good as other people," "I felt hopeful about the future," "I was happy," and "I enjoyed life."


The overall incidence of frailty increased almost eight percent during the seven-year follow-up period, but those who scored high on positive affect were significantly less likely to become frail. Each unit increase in baseline positive affect score was associated with a three percent decreased risk of frailty after adjusting for relevant risk factors.

The precise reason for this happening was beyond the scope of the current study, but the researchers speculate that positive emotions may directly affect health via chemical and neural responses involved in maintaining homeostatic balance. Or a more indirect process may be at work, according to the authors, with positive emotions affecting health by increasing a person’s intellectual, physical, psychological and social resources.

In the second study, researchers Thomas Hess, Ph.D., Joey Hinson, M.A., and Jill Statham, B.A., from North Carolina State University investigated how negative stereotypes about aging influences older adults’ memory. Their study involved 193 participants and two experiments, each with a younger (17 – 35 years old) and older (57 – 82 years old) group of adults. Participants were exposed to stereotype-related words in the context of another task (scrambled sentence, word judgment) in order to prime positive and negative stereotypes of aging. This involved either words reflecting negative stereotypes about aging (brittle, complaining, confused, cranky, feeble, forgot, senile, etc.) or words reflecting positive views of aging (accomplished, active, alert, dignified, distinguished, knowledgeable, successful, etc.)

Results show memory performance in older adults was lower when they were primed with negative stereotypes than when they were primed with positive stereotypes. In addition, age differences in memory between young and older adults were significantly reduced following a positive stereotype prime, with young and older adults performing at almost identical levels in some situations.

The study also provides evidence that older adults can control the effect of negative stereotype activation but only when the primes are relatively subtle. In contrast, when the stereotype primes are relatively blatant, memory performance tends to be negatively affected.

The results of this study add to a growing list of findings that implicate the importance of the social environment in how it affects older peoples’ memory performance, according to the authors. If older people are treated like they are competent, productive members of society, then they perform that way too.

David Partenheimer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.apa.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Two-dimensional melting of hard spheres experimentally unravelled after 60 years

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecular libraries for organic light-emitting diodes

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>