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11.05.2019


The secret to a healthy old age? Stay in control of your anger

The secret to a healthy old age? Stay in control of your anger
Aging is inherent in losing people you love and giving up things that are important to you. The logical emotional consequences are sadness and anger. The first does not affect health, write Canadian psychologists from Concordia University in Psychology and Aging. But anger, well... Anger is a different story.

Study
The Canadians studied 226 Montreal residents, who were 59-93 years old. With questionnaires the researchers determined how much sadness and how much anger the participants daily felt during a week. In addition, the researchers analyzed the blood of the study participants.

Results
Sadness had no impact on health, the researchers discovered. Anger, on the other hand, did deteriorate health. But, the Canadians discovered, anger only had a negative effect on the health of the over-80s.

In that age category, anger increased the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis or type 2 diabetes. At the same time, the chance of a high concentration of the inflammatory factor interleukin-6 was higher as the eighty-pluses experienced more anger.

The Canadians were able to calculate that anger deteriorated health through the increase in interleukin-6.


The secret to a healthy old age? Stay in control of your anger

The secret to a healthy old age? Stay in control of your anger



Conclusion
Anger in itself is not a negative feeling, emphasizes first author Meaghan Barlow in a press release. [sciencedaily.com May 9, 2019] "Anger is an energizing emotion that can help motivate people to pursue life goals," she says.

"Younger seniors may be able to use that anger as fuel to overcome life's challenges and emerging age-related losses and that can keep them healthier. Anger becomes problematic for adults once they reach 80 years old, however, because that is when many experience irreversible losses and some of life's pleasures fall out of reach."

For that group, it would be better to let go of anger, Barlow thinks. "If we better understand which negative emotions are harmful, not harmful or equally beneficial to older people, we can teach them how to cope with loss in a healthy way. This may help them go or their anger."

Source:
Psychol Aging. 2019 May;34(3):330-40.

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Psychology of Longevity
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