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No Doubt: Seniors are “Tough Old Birds,” says AMAC

AMACWASHINGTON, DC, MAR 12 — It’s not easy getting old.  When times are bad they’re worse for the elderly and no better example is there than the times in which we’ve been living for the past twelve months or so—in the year of the COVID-19 pandemic.  There’s no doubt that the older you are the more physically vulnerable you can be to the coronavirus, but there’s evidence that aging can also turn us into mentally tougher “old birds,” as the saying goes, according to Rebecca Weber, CEO of the Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC].

There was concern across the board when the pandemic got started that there would be a “mental health crisis” among the older population due to COVID based restrictions on contact with friends and family.  But according to an article in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, there is “evidence suggesting that, counter to expectation, older adults as a group may be more resilient to the anxiety, depression, and stress-related mental health disorders characteristic of younger populations during the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The article cites a study by the Centers for Disease Control that showed “933 participants aged 65 years or older reported significantly lower percentages of anxiety disorder (6.2%), depressive disorder (5.8%), or trauma- or stress-related disorder (TSRD) (9.2%) than participants in younger age groups.”

But that doesn’t mean seniors are not lonely, says Weber.  “How can you not be lonely when interpersonal relationships are suddenly curtailed.  But it appears that the older you get the better able you are to cope psychologically with loneliness.”

She notes that there’s even more evidence that we get stronger emotionally as we get older.  The AMAC CEO cites a new study conducted by the Stanford Center on Longevity, for example.  In it, Professor Laura Carstensen, says that “as people age, they’re more emotionally balanced and better able to solve highly emotional problems.”

According to Carstensen, “we surveyed a representative sample of 945 Americans between the ages of 18 and 76 years and assessed the frequency and intensity of a range of positive and negative emotions. We also assessed perceived risk of contagion and complications from the virus, as well as personality, health, and demographic characteristics. Age was associated with relatively greater emotional well-being both when analyses did and did not control for perceived risk and other covariates. The present findings extend previous research about age and emotion by demonstrating that older adults’ relatively better emotional well-being persists even in the face of prolonged stress.”

Meanwhile,  Dr. Marcia Ory, a Texas A&M aging expert, put it this way: “older adults – despite their awareness of increased risk – are generally not reporting more feelings of anxiety, anger or stress than younger age groups [during the COVID crisis].”

Dr. Ory is the founding director of the Texas A&M Center of Population Health and Aging and notes that she has been “studying the impacts of COVID-19 with an interest in debunking myths and identifying unexpected positive consequences for our aging population.”

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Oleg Janke
6 months ago

Are older people more resilient than younger people simply because of their age, or because their different life experiences when younger steeled them for adversity in later life. In other words they were not part of a overly pampered, everyone-gets-a trophy generation.

Larry
6 months ago
Reply to  Oleg Janke

Also more of us are probably in a closer relationship with Christ than the younger generation, especially generation Z. When you know where your next home is regardless of what happens with this one there is a great amount of peace in ones life. I’ve lived my three score and ten plus blessed with another ten and working on the next ten.

Nick
6 months ago
Reply to  Oleg Janke

These younger generations sure are pampered! Why, any high school graduate can go out and get a job that pays well enough to buy a house and support a family! Or… wait, do I have that mixed up?

Di B
6 months ago

I have an uncle who will be 103 years young this August. He is currently living in an assisted living apartment and he is the epitome of a “tough old bird”! I talk to him every couple of weeks by phone and he is so positive and upbeat about everything in spite of not being able to have any visitors for over a year, he is my inspiration! He worked in construction for most of his life, refusing to actually “retire” until he was well into his 70’s, and even then, he would work for an old friend on occasion and would always be there to help a friend or relative with whatever project they had going on. Young people could learn a lot from a man like him!

Rik
6 months ago

I am 73, still working 8-9 hours a day/7 days a week petitioning 6-7 months a year. I am single, don’t eat a healthy diet and really don’t exercise. I am healthy because my insides are healthy! NO CLOGGED ARTERIES because I do PEMF THERAPY TREATMENTS daily on my Bemer Medical Device. That’s Pulse Electro Magnetic Field Therapy which drives my circulation. It was worth the close to $5000 it cost. I can’t even imagine what my health would be without it!

Gloria P. Sterling
6 months ago

I am so blessed. Approaching, in a few days, my 90th birthday and still going strong physically and mentally. Jesus is Lord! I also have a loving family. I just never ever thought I would see so much damage done to our beautiful country by those in office who hate America and, in fact, are evidently haters of God. I would not want to be in their shoes when they meet God, unless they repent before it is too late. I’m still praying for God to come forth in these days and give us some sanity back and bless our Nation again.

Kim
6 months ago

Happy birthday to you!

Stephan
6 months ago

Gloria, you are the epitome of why older people handle stress better. Older people, as a group, have more faith in God. We’re comfortable with death as a beginning instead of the end. People without God fear death as the end of their existence.

Melinda
6 months ago

I can attest to all this. At 80 I still have disappointments, family tragedies, etc, but my mood improves more rapidly than it used to. I’m a firm believer that physical exercise helps, as well as eating healthy food. I’m blessed to be in decent health and am grateful for life in general. No time for negativity. ????

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