Health Benefits of Feeling Younger

New research indicates that feeling younger than you are can have long-range health benefits.

Age is whatever you think it is and you are as old as you think you are rings an old quote. This is something that those of us in the field of rehabilitation services have always known – or at least intuited.

What is mind-blowing is that, finally, there is published clinical evidence to prove it.

A recently published research letter originating from the University College London in the UK and appearing this month in The Journal Of The American Medical Association indicates that “Older people typically feel younger than their chronological age, and it is thought that those who feel younger than their actual age have reduced mortality.”

With this premise as their starting point, the aforementioned researchers observed a lower death rate in older people who felt 3 or more years younger than their actual age, compared with participants who felt their actual age or more than 1 year older.

“Self-perceived age reflects appraisals of health, physical limitations, and well-being in later life,” write the authors of the study that totaled 6,489 participants and measured the self-perceived age of the participants by asking the question, “How old do you feel you are?”

The importance of the results in this study for the Health Industry seems indisputable as they shed light into the significance of self-perceived age in the overall aging process – and for those of us immersed in the field of rehabilitative services, these findings point to “the holy grail” of rehabilitation and longevity: the individual’s self perceived age.

What’s even more amazing is the study’s further suggestion that greater resilience, a sense of empowerment and will to live, as well as specific health behaviors such as adhering to medical advice, could actually explain the lower mortality rates in people feeling younger than their actual age – And having a speedier recovery!” my rehab colleagues would add.

Especially because from this, we could safely infer that as highly trained rehabilitation specialists, we can tap into a patient’s reservoir of strength and rejuvenation by mirroring and reflecting back to the patient a younger self image thus helping them access once again their younger pre-rehab self image as part of the recovery process.

In light of these findings, state-of-the-art facilities, leading edge rehab technology, and research based practices increase in value beyond the eye pleasing, aesthetic – they serve as the perfect environment that can reflect back to the individual that priceless self-image: That younger self they knew before the fracture, the knee replacement, the back injury: a vibrant and fully functioning individual known as their younger self.

The researchers conclude stating hat “self-perceived age has the potential to change, so interventions may be possible. Individuals who feel older than their actual age could be targeted with health messages promoting positive health behaviors and attitudes toward aging.”

Indeed, the “holy grail” of Rehabilitation and Longevity.
And we, the rehab specialists knew it all along!

18. December 2014 by Ruth Folger Weiss
Categories: Aging | Tags: , , | Leave a comment