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How gray is your attitude?

January 11, 2013
by Pamela Tabar, Associate Editor
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Researchers—and long-term caregivers—know that a positive attitude about aging can keep people healthy longer, and even save on healthcare costs. Researchers at Colorado State University are now working on a way to measure the complex relationship between how old a person “feels,” and his or her biological age.

Through questionnaires, the project will try to define ways to assess perceptions of age based on five key areas:

  1. Physicial health and functioning
  2. Cognitive functioning
  3. Social relationships
  4. Social-emotional functioning, including how feelings are processed
  5. Engagement and lifestyle, including activity values

Having a way to measure self-perceived age could open up a wealth of educational opportunities for elders and their families and caregivers, explains Manfred Diehl, prinipal investigator on the project team.

“If our research can help people become more aware of their own aging and take action to optimize it through preventive health behaviors, such as exercising, health screenings, planning for retirement and long-term care, then we can make aging an experience that more people enjoy and embrace,” Diehl said at the project’s announcement. “Every year that someone is out of a nursing home and healthy can add up, collectively, to millions of dollars in health-care savings and to better quality of life for more individuals,” Diehl said.

The project, funded by the National Institutes of Health, will include men and women age 40 and older.

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