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As Americans age, one element seems to be key for their mental and physical health: optimism. That’s the finding suggested by a new Humana survey, which asked Americans age 60 and over how they perceive the importance of various wellness traits.
Although the survey uncovered many perspectives, the findings about optimism suggest a possible link between a “glass half full” mentality and mental and physical health:
• Older Americans who rated themselves as very optimistic about aging tended to be the most active physically and socially in their communities.
• They also reported a much lower number of physically unhealthy days per month on average: 2.84 for the most optimistic, compared to 12.55 physically unhealthy days for the least optimistic.
• The most optimistic also felt on average 12 years younger than their actual age (those who are least optimistic felt on average seven years older than their actual age).
The survey also asked respondents to rate how they feel about the depiction of people age 60 and over in pop culture — in film, television, commercials and so on. Overwhelmingly, the respondents perceived these media portrayals of their own demographic as inaccurate, rating the accuracy level as, on average, five or less on a 10-point scale. Those aging Americans who do feel that media accurately portrays them think about aging more than the average and have a higher level of fear about aging than their peers.
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