May 9, 2023

Older people have better mental health, life satisfaction than 30 years ago

Editor's Note

This study by researchers from Finland finds that depressive symptoms in 75- and 80-year-olds have decreased, and they are more satisfied with their lives overall than those at the same age 30 years ago.

Two independent cohorts of Finnish men and women aged 75 and 80 were analyzed in 1989-1990 (617 individuals born in 1910 and 1914) and in 2017-2018 (794 individuals born between 1938-1939 and 1942-1943).

The results showed:

  • The later-born men and women overall reported fewer depressive symptoms and better life satisfaction during their life course so far. However, earlier-born men displayed greater satisfaction with their lives at age 80 than today’s 80-year-old men.
  • The differences between cohorts remained significant after controlling for education, social resources, self-rated health, and functional performance.
  • The later-born individuals exhibited markedly improved physical and cognitive capabilities than the earlier-born individuals at the same age.

The researchers concluded that positive feelings and lack of depressive symptoms predict longevity, better health, and better functioning. Future researcher should address whether this positive change continues in the next cohorts.

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