AGING: Mind over matter

Old age often comes with physical discomfort and health problems. But new research points to psychosocial, not physical, factors as the main culprit for lower well-being in later life.
Aging-induced physical ailments are not the primary source of lower quality of life and decreased well-being among older men and women, new research suggests. Rather, it is psychosocial factors that have the highest influence, according to the new findings.

Read the full article on the Medical News Today website.

 

The team focused on “subjective well-being” (SWB), a term that scientists use to describe how people experience well-being on a personal level. By contrast, “objective well-being” refers to measuring a person’s well-being based on objectively chosen criteria, such as financial stability.

The scientists measured SWB using the WHO-5 well-being index. Designed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the WHO-5 well-being index is one of the most popular questionnaires used to assess subjective psychological well-being.

SWB was calculated using the scores achieved on the index, and the results were divided in two categories: a “low” score (considered to be anything that is equal to or below 50, on a scale from 0 to 100) and “high” score (considered as anything above 50). The researchers accounted for the link between potential risk factors and SWB using logistic regression models.

Depression, anxiety have strongest influence
Overall, the study revealed a high level of SWB among the population studied. As many as 79 percent of the respondents scored “high” on the index. However, in the “low” category, there were significantly more women than men: 24 percent compared with 18 percent, respectively.

On the whole, the analysis showed that factors such as “low income, physical inactivity, multimorbidity, depression, anxiety, and sleeping problems” tend to affect SWB in both men and women. For women, living alone seemed to have a more pronounced effect on SWB.

However, of all of these factors, physical ones such as multimorbidity and physical inactivity did not seem to have a significant effect on SWB. Rather, depression and anxiety had the strongest negative impact on SWB.

Apparently, aging itself is not inevitably associated with a decline in mood and quality of life. It is rather the case that psychosocial factors such as depression or anxiety impair subjective well-being.

The researchers called for an “increased focus on mental health interventions among older adults.”

Read the full article on the Medical News Today website.

 

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