Our attitudes to ageing impact health

Negativity linked to poorer cognition
  • Deborah Condon

How people feel about ageing appears to have a direct impact on their health, new Irish research has shown.

According to the findings, those with a negative attitude to ageing have poorer mental and physical health.

The research was based on the latest data from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) in Trinity College Dublin. TILDA is an ongoing study of people over the age of 50 in Ireland.

The study found that over a two-year period, those with a positive attitude to ageing had better cognitive abilities. However, those with a negative attitude had worse cognitive abilities and a slower walking speed.

These results stood even when others factors were taken into account, such as health changes which took place during the two years, medication, mood and other changes in life circumstances.

The study also found that a negative attitude towards ageing affected the interaction of different health conditions. The researchers pointed out that frail older adults have an increased risk of many health problems, including cognitive issues.

However, they found that among participants in this study, frail adults with a negative attitude had worse cognition compared to non-frail participants, but frail participants with a positive attitude had the same cognitive abilities as their non-frail peers.

"The way we think about, talk about and write about ageing may have direct effects on health. Everyone will grow older and if negative attitudes towards ageing are carried throughout life, they can have a detrimental, measurable effect on mental, physical and cognitive health," commented lead researcher, Dr Deirdre Robertson.

For more information on TILDA, click here


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