Researchers hunting for clues to longevity found that certain personality traits may be instrumental in lengthening your lifespan.
Mentally healthier than youth
The research was conducted in nine remote villages in the Cilento region of southern Italy where hundreds of residents are older than 90.
The study zeroed in on 29 of them, who ranged in age from 90 to 101.
While these elders had poorer physical health than younger family members, they had better mental well-being, according to the study.
"There have been a number of studies on very old adults, but they have mostly focused on genetics, rather than their mental health or personalities," said senior author Dr Dilip Jeste.
According to Jeste, who is a professor of psychiatry and neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, "The main themes that emerged from the study, and appear to be the unique features associated with better mental health of this rural population, were positivity, work ethic, stubbornness and a strong bond with family, religion and land.”
The study, which was published in the journal of International Psychogeriatrics, found that love of the land was particularly prominent.
Confidence is key
"The group's love of their land is a common theme and gives them a purpose in life. Most of them are still working in their homes and on the land. They think, 'This is my life and I'm not going to give it up’,” said mental health worker Anna Scelzo.
The researchers also found that the very old adults had significant self-confidence and decision-making skills compared to folks in their 50s, 60s and 70s.
"This paradox of aging supports the notion that well-being and wisdom increase with ageing, even though physical health is failing," said Jeste.
Depression shortens lifespan
Proving the opposite to be true, a previous study by Health24 also revealed that older adults with a history of depression are at risk of living shorter lives.
While the causes of death could not be provided, previous studies showed that that depression leads to higher risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions which may lead to earlier death.
According to researcher Stephan Gilman, though depression itself cannot shorten lifespan, it can affect the physical health of those struggling with it.
Participants of the study will continue to be monitored though the study has already been published.
"Studying the strategies of exceptionally long-lived and lived-well individuals, who not just survive but also thrive and flourish, enhances our understanding of health and functional capacities in all age groups," said Jeste.
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