After tracking 516 men and women ages 70 and over over a six-year period, the results of the Berlin Aging Study will soon be published in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Science. The study was conducted by the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.
The results of the study are based on interviews with the participants and their perceptions of various aspects of aging, including perceptions of how young they look, how young they feel, and how satisfied they are with the process of aging. Interesting differences in these perceptions from the beginning of the study to six years later, differences between men and women, and men and women over time, were noted.
Early in the study, participants thought they looked about 10 years younger than their age, but by the end of the study, they perceived themselves as looking seven years younger. Women, in the beginning and later stages of the study, saw themselves as closer to their actual age than men saw themselves.
When it came to satisfaction with aging, men were more satisfied with their own aging than women in the initial part of the study, but men’s dissatisfaction increased more than women’s as time passed.
How people perceive their own aging, how they feel and how they look, determines their behavior, their resilience and their vitality in later life. In unpublished results of the Berlin Aging Study, researchers found that those who feel younger are less likely to die than those who feel older, given the same age and equivalent level of health.
The verdict: Don’t look your age, don’t feel your age, don’t act your age. You’ll live longer.