Successful cognitive and emotional aging

World Psychiatry. 2010 Jun;9(2):78-84. doi: 10.1002/j.2051-5545.2010.tb00277.x.


We review the definitions, determinants, and ways of enhancing successful cognitive and emotional aging. Objective definitions of successful aging based on physical health emphasize outcomes including freedom from disability and disease, whereas subjective definitions center on well-being, social connectedness, and adaptation. Most older people do not meet objective criteria for successful aging, while a majority meet the subjective criteria. Older people with severe mental illness are not excluded from successful aging. The determinants of successful aging include complex interactions of lifestyle behaviors and social environment with genes. Depression interferes with nearly all determinants of successful aging. Evidence-based means of enhancing successful aging include calorie restriction, physical exercise, cognitive stimulation, social support, and optimization of stress. Future directions for successful aging research and implications for geriatric psychiatry are discussed.

Keywords: Successful aging; cognitive stimulation; physical exercise; social support.