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."
David Partenheimer | EurekAlert!
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