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Elizabeth Scott, M.S.

Ready To Thrive?

By October 30, 2008

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I recently visited my grandparents, who are wonderful, fun people. They are also in their nineties, and thriving! I’ve always been impressed with their fun-loving attitude, independent spirits, and ability to weather stressful events without becoming too overwhelmed, and I’ve always tried to emulate them. New research shows how we can all improve our chances for thriving in older age.

Researchers followed 2432 individuals for 10 years, evaluated their lifestyle and personality, and classified them into one of four groups at the end of the study. By the study’s end, 8% were the ‘thrivers’, who maintained exceptional health with no or only mild disability; 47% were ‘nonthrivers’, who experienced a moderate or severe disability; there were also 36% who were deceased and 9% who were institutionalized.

Upon examining the traits of those who thrived into old age, they found that some factors were able to be controlled. While baseline age and socioeconomic status made a difference, for example, so did psychosocial and behavioral factors: optimists and those who managed stress well, as well as those who didn’t smoke or drink in excess, tended to thrive!

"Many of these factors can be modified when you are young or middle-aged," said David Feeny, Ph.D., study co-author and senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, in a press release. "While these findings may seem like common sense, now we have evidence about which factors contribute to exceptional health during retirement years."

Healthy stress management and even the development of an optimistic outlook on life can—and should—be developed starting today, and you can be one of the fortunate few who will truly thrive in the present day and well into the future. Below are some resources that can lead you to a healthier lifestyle today and a better chance of thriving, like my grandparents!

Resources To Help You Thrive:

Kaplan MS, Huguet N, Orpana H, Feeny D, McFarland BH, Ross N. Prevalence and factors associated with thriving in older adulthood: a 10-year population-based study. The Journals of Gerontology , October 2008.

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October 30, 2008 at 2:20 pm
(1) anne says:

Great, great article. It is often so hard to be a ‘thriver’ but it is never too late to start and I think that using techniques such as visualization and meditation are great tools to do this.


November 1, 2008 at 10:47 am
(2) Jill R says:

I guess it’s not surprising that managing your stress well could increase your life span. It’s always very interesting to see studies like this. Just one more good reason to manage our stress well!

November 1, 2008 at 10:52 pm
(3) Herbalife Discount says:

Keep smiling. It’s contagious.

August 7, 2010 at 1:37 pm
(4) Miriam says:

I think a crucial ingredient to increasing one’s optimism is to increase one’s faith in God.

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