Age with Optimism

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As Americans age, one element seems to be key for their mental and physical health: optimism.

That’s the finding suggested by a new Humana survey, which asked Americans age 60 and over how they perceive the importance of various wellness traits.

Although the survey uncovered many perspectives, the findings about optimism suggest a possible link between a “glass half full” mentality and mental and physical health:

• Older Americans who rated themselves as very optimistic about aging tended to be the most active physically, socially and in their communities.

• They also reported a much lower number of physically unhealthy days per month on average: 2.84 for the most optimistic, compared to 12.55 physically unhealthy days for the least optimistic.

• The most optimistic also felt on average 12 years younger than their actual age (those who are least optimistic felt on average 7 years older than their actual age).

The survey also asked respondents to rate how they feel about the depiction of people age 60 and over in pop culture: in film, television, commercials and so on.

Overwhelmingly, the respondents perceived these media portrayals of their own demographic as inaccurate, rating the accuracy level as, on average, 5 or less on a 10-point scale. Those aging Americans who do feel that media accurately portrays them think about aging more than the average and have a higher level of fear about aging than their peers.

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