Did you know that aging adults are NOT the grumpiest members of the community?! They are simply the most misunderstood! In this week’s Senior Spotlight, I wanted to share some GREAT news: according to the Geriatrics Division of Duke University School of Medicine, older people are actually happier than the general population. So why does the 1993 movie ‘Grumpy Old Men’ seem so relatable? And why we do we assume we ourselves are destined to get more irritable with age? Let’s take a closer look…
First of all, let’s examine the facts. Scientific research has repeatedly shown that older adults are relatively content and patient, and actually more pleasant than their younger counterparts. In fact, it is common for The Positivity Effect to heighten with age, that tendency to remember the good stuff overt the bad. Lifestyle changes such as creating your own schedule, not reporting to an employer or fighting a commute everyday are also linked to improved attitudes.
Yet we can all recall a cranky great aunt… or have maybe even witnessed mood changes in our parents. The reality is that these perceptions of annoyance that we attribute to aging in general are more of a symptom than an actual ‘disease’. Often irritability stems from challenges with coping with one piece of aging – not being able to read a menu in dim restaurant light, unmanaged pain from arthritis or fall recovery, or even signs of dementia or depression. The silver lining in this actualization is that if you treat the symptom of irritability it does not have to become a constant state of discontent. Those who are older and appear to be grumpy may simply need a little more support or some basic adaptations to re-join the majority of older adults that ARE truly content.
The first step we can all take is recognizing that being irritable is not inevitable. Instead of labeling and steering clear of our elderly and seemingly ‘grumpy’ relatives, why not take a virtual walk in their shoes and add some comfort to the journey.
Read more about the stereotypes associated with ageism and when we should pay attention instead of attributing mood changes to part of a long life HERE.
Resource Used: The Truth About Grumpy Old Men (and Women)
All my best,
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