The relationship between attitudes to aging and physical and mental health in older adults

Int Psychogeriatr. 2012 Oct;24(10):1674-83. doi: 10.1017/S1041610212000774. Epub 2012 May 30.

Abstract

Background: Attitudes are known to exert a powerful influence on a range of behaviors. The objective of this study was to investigate the contribution of attitudes toward one's own aging to satisfaction with life and physical and mental health measured in a sample of community-dwelling older adults.

Methods: Adults who were part of a larger study of health and well-being in rural and regional Australia aged ≥60 years (N = 421) completed a cross-sectional postal survey comprising the Attitudes to Aging Questionnaire, the 12-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-12), the Satisfaction with Life Scale, the Geriatric Anxiety Inventory, and the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale.

Results: Overall, attitudes to aging were positive in this sample. More positive attitudes to aging were associated with higher levels of satisfaction with life, better self-report physical and mental health on the SF-12, and lower levels of anxiety and depression, after controlling for confounding variables. Better financial status and being employed were both associated with more positive attitudes to aging and better self-reported physical health. Relationship status was also significantly associated with mental health and satisfaction with life, but not physical health.

Conclusion: The promotion of successful aging is increasingly becoming important in aging societies. Having positive attitudes to aging may contribute to healthier mental and physical outcomes in older adults. Overcoming negative stereotypes of aging through change at the societal and individual level may help to promote more successful aging.

MeSH terms

  • Aged / psychology
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health* / statistics & numerical data
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Surveys and Questionnaires