In our last post, we described the paradox revealed through research into aging and emotions. Aging is a process of normal maturation and development, which results in increased emotional well-being as we age. This research also served to debunk several myths that are pervasive in society. These include the following:
Myth: Everyone gets depressed as they age
Fact: The levels of depression don’t change as we age
Myth: Older people are always unhappy
Fact: Older people are more satisfied
Myth: Older adults have fewer relationships
Fact: Older adults have more meaningful relationships
Myth: Older adults don’t “deal” well with change
Fact: Older adults are more resilient than young adults
The truth is that aging doesn’t change some basic things that help determine our emotional well-being. For example, aging doesn’t impact the way we experience emotion. If you’ve always been cool, calm, and collected, you will remain so as you age. Conversely, if you have always reacted strongly to situations and triggers, you will continue to do so. The intensity of your emotions remains the same. Some people experience happiness deeply and quietly but show their happiness exuberantly! Negative emotions continue to impact physical health. Finally, our basic personalities don’t change. If you view the world as a glass half-full when young, you will have the same view as you age. Likewise, if your glass is half-empty, it will always be half-empty.
However, some things do change with age. Anxiety and depression decrease as we age. Both are higher in young adults. Social networks, which remain vital to healthy aging, change in quality. The result of these changes is increased emotional well-being. In our next blog post, we will begin exploring what emotional well-being is and how it can be supported as we age.