Old people often come across as irrational and difficult to manage to those who take care of them. Is there a reason for that? Maybe it is the fact that from living independent lives, they have suddenly been reduced to depending on others for their basic needs. This is bound to invite vulnerability and fear.
A study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences has shown that when the elderly feel like they have a semblance of control over their daily lives, they feel younger, regardless of any health concerns or stress.
The study also showed that, for younger people, it is stress and health that governs how old they feel, not a sense of control.
The sample for this study was 116 older adults between the ages of 60-90 years and 107 younger adults between the ages 18-36 years. They were required to fill out a survey daily for 8 consecutive days. The survey contained a questionnaire that aimed at assessing their daily stresses, physical health, sense of control over their daily lives, and how old they felt.
The co-author of the study, Shevaun Neupert, Professor at North Carolina State University in the US said,”The more control older adults think they have, the younger they feel.” She added that Everyone’s sense of control fluctuates from day to day, or even over the course of a day and that it is completely normal.
Prof. Neupert also said, “We found that when older adults felt more in control, they also felt younger. That was true even when accounting for stress and physical health.” But, added that an individual’s sense of control had no bearing on self-perceptions of age for young adults instead stress and adverse changes in health made young people feel older.
Giving older adults a sense of autonomy is not just a nice thing to do but it also affects their well-being.