[Professor Dilip] Jeste points out that some things get better with age, like the ability to make decisions, control emotions, and have compassion for others—in other words, we get wiser with age. The challenge to aging well, he argues, is to be an optimist, resilient and pro-active, allowing the benefits of age to shine through.
In older age, there is more stress in some areas. Physical illness, disability, the deaths of near and dear ones, financial problems, retirement and a loss of sense of purpose, are all genuine stresses of old age.
What matters is how you respond to the stress. We have been doing a study of about 2000 people from age 21 to 100-plus. We look at their physical health, cognitive function, and psychosocial functioning. What we find is that physical health declines after middle age, which is not a surprise. Cognitive function starts to decline in older age, not a surprise. But psycho-social functioning, including wellness, quality of life, and happiness progressively improve with age.
I really object to viewing aging as something bad, uncontrollable, a surprise, a disaster, something we want to avoid through anti-aging remedies. We should look at the positive aspects of aging and see how we can enhance them.
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