Learning Center
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out



									Optimal Aging

PS277- Ch. 5 – Lecture 18

 Healthy Aging

 Physical Health Factors

 Psychological Health: Gratitude and
  Forgiveness as Examples in Later Life

 Other Positive Goals
Robert Browning’s Famous Lines

 “Grow old along with me!
 The best is yet to be,
 The last of life for which the first was
 (Rabbi Ben Ezra)
Rowe & Kahn’s Model of
Successful Aging
Healthy Aging – Andrew Weil
Weil’s 12-Point Plan for Healthy
Aging – Physical Health
 Eat a healthy diet
 Use dietary supplements wisely to support the
    body’s defenses
   Use preventive medicine intelligently – know
    your risks, get appropriate diagnostic tests and
    screenings, treat problems early
   Get regular physical activity throughout life
   Get adequate sleep and rest
   Learn and practice methods of stress protection
Prevention Models – Levels of
Health Interventions
 Primary – e.g., maintain good diet, an exercise program
   across life

 Secondary – e.g., screening for health issues to see if
   have early signs of problems (e.g., cholesterol levels)

 Tertiary – e.g, accommodating to health problems, using
   medical interventions to manage pain and prevent further

 Quaternary – helping people with chronic conditions to
   maintain other kinds of function (e.g., strategies for
   Alzheimer’s patients’ memories)
Harvard Growth Study – Health
Predictors (Vaillant, 2002)
Weil’s 12-Point Plan:
Psychological Elements
 Exercise your mind as well as your body
 Maintain social and intellectual connections throughout
   Be flexible in mind and body: learn to adapt to losses
    and let go of behaviors no longer appropriate
   Think about and try to discover for yourself the benefits of
    aging (gratitude)
   Do not deny the reality of aging or put energy into trying
    to stop it. Use the experience as a stimulus for spiritual
   Keep a record of the lessons you learn, the wisdom you
    gain, and the values you hold.
An Example of Positive
Psychology Virtues: Gratitude
and Its Possible Benefits
 Research on gratitude by Robert Emmons

 Experimental studies on health benefits of finding daily
   positives to feel grateful about

 65 adults with serious, but non-life threatening medical

 Average age was 50 (22-77)

 Given a daily “gratitude intervention” to fill out each
   evening for 3 weeks vs. control group which did not do
Robert Emmons
Gratitude Instructions – Try It

 There are many things in our lives, both
  large and small, that we might be
  grateful about. Think back over today
  and write down on the lines below up to
  five things in your life that you are
  grateful or thankful for.

 ___________________
Outcome Measures
 Daily affect ratings

 Subjective well-being: life as whole, optimism
  about upcoming week, feelings of connections
  with others

 Health: sleep hours, sleep quality, pain,
  exercise, functional status

 Spouse or significant other’s ratings of how the
  participant would respond on wellbeing
Results - Effects on Life



 3                             gratitude


      own sat*    spousesat*
            Results – Average Effects on
Variable:       Gratitude   Control

Hours of        7.58        7.06
Quality of      3.04        2.58
Physical Pain 2.96          3.20

Functional      1.63        1.58
Another Example: Forgiveness
and Aging
 Survey research by Toussaint et al. (2001); US
   probability sample of 1423 adults

 Reported health status, life satisfaction, psychological
   distress +

 Forgiveness of others: try to forgive others, don’t hold
   grudges, don’t try to get even

 Forgiveness of self: Feel I can undo my past mistakes,
   can forgive myself

 Forgiven by God: Knowing that God forgives me
Average Forgiveness of Others, God
and Self by Age Group (1 – 5 Scale)

  4                               Others*
 3.8                              Self
       18-44   45-64   65+
Relations between Forgiveness of Others and
Adjustment Measures by Age Group

Measure:      18-44   45-64      65+

Psychological -.24    -.48*      -.37*

Life          .05      .24*       .27*
Self-Rated    -.04     .06        .24*
Forgiveness in the Family: Parents’
Forgiveness of Grandparents (Pratt et
al., 2008)
 Interview study of 35 Canadian mothers and fathers with an 8
   year-old first-born child
 Described a real-life grandparenting “problem”: why it was a
   problem, what they were doing about it, outcome so far

 Protocols rated reliably on 1-5 scales on 4 dimensions:
   seriousness of problem, anger about it, optimism about finding
   a solution, willingness to forgive the grandparent

 Also completed generative concern measure (LGS)

 Reported on closeness to grandparent, depression scale
Hi Forgiveness Mother’s
Description of Problem
   Hi Forgiveness Mom: “When my mother-in-law comes
    over to take care of the kids, the rules go out the window,
    the chores don’t get done, they stay up late, even though
    it’s school, they eat chocolate and it’s too late at night for
    that. But, at the same time, I understand that I have to be
    flexible, so I am kind of working it out in my own mind…
    Because my sister in law gave me really good advice on
    this a long time ago when I had my kids. She said, ‘No
    matter how wacky or weird you think it is, if it doesn’t hurt
    them let it go.’…[Why do you feel the way you do about
    this?] “Bubba comes over and everything that I feel I am
    trying to teach my kids goes out the window.” [Does
    this present a moral problem for you?] “No. Because she
    is not hurting anyone, the kids are safe and she loves
    them so much, and so much of what she does she
    does out of love and kindness and caring, so how
    can I get mad?”
A Low Forgiveness and Low
Optimism Father’s Description
 Low Forgiveness Father: “My wife’s parents split up 5-
  6 years ago and her mom, every time you ask her to take
  care of the kids, we get a lot of feedback, like she doesn’t
  have time or whatever, and it’s hard to say but it’s like
  she doesn’t want to see them. She says her time is full
  and we can’t understand that, we always thought if you
  become a grandparent that’s one of the joys of it, that you
  would want to spend as much time as you can with the
 “We have to put up with it because I know what she
  is like and if you mention it to her she will feel we are
  putting a guilt trip on her.” [Does it present a problem?]
  “I think it does because growing up I spent time with my
  grandparents and my wife spent time with hers a lot and
  you just look forward to that time as a kid and I think our
  kids are being robbed of that.”
Results of Study
 Forgiveness was related to generativity, so that
  more generative parents more likely to forgive
  (and more optimistic about solving the issue)

 More forgiving mothers rated themselves as
  closer to grandparents, and felt less depressed

 More forgiving fathers felt less depressed

 Since these are correlational studies, no way to
  tell what causes what – but forgiveness was
Caring for and Connecting to
Others in Later Life
 Volunteering as a valuable role in later life-
  good for society, health benefits for self

 Grandparents and oldest generation continue to
  be important contributors to the family into very
  late life – financially, teaching, inspiration

 Generativity doesn’t stop in midlife – strong
  predictor of adaptation in old (Vaillant, 2002)

 Gardening as a metaphor for aging – continuing
  to care for relationships

To top