Positive Development: Mental Health of Older Adults Improving Over Time

by Tatsuya Nakamura
5 comments
mental health improvement

According to a recent study conducted by the University of Jyväskylä, the mental well-being of today’s elderly population, specifically those aged 75 and 80, has shown significant improvement compared to their counterparts from three decades ago. The research, carried out at the Gerontology Research Center within the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, examined the levels of depressive symptoms and overall life satisfaction among individuals in these age groups, both in the present day and in the 1990s.

The study revealed that contemporary 75- and 80-year-olds, including both men and women, experience fewer depressive symptoms than those who were the same age in the 1990s. This positive change can be attributed, at least in part, to the perception of better health status and higher levels of education among the more recent cohorts.

Professor Taina Rantanen, a faculty member of the Sport and Health Sciences department, notes that this finding aligns with previous research indicating that older individuals today exhibit enhanced physical and cognitive functioning compared to previous generations. The study’s latest results further reinforce these encouraging findings, particularly concerning mental well-being.

In terms of life satisfaction, today’s 75- and 80-year-olds expressed greater contentment with their lives overall. However, there was no significant difference in satisfaction with their present circumstances. Interestingly, 80-year-old men from the 1990s reported even higher satisfaction with their current lives than their contemporary counterparts.

Postdoctoral researcher Tiia Kekäläinen suggests that the increased satisfaction among the older men from the 1990s may be influenced by the difficult times they had experienced, allowing them to appreciate the improvements that occurred during that era. Kekäläinen emphasizes that individuals have a capacity to adapt to their circumstances and living conditions, as evidenced by the majority of older adults from both periods reporting satisfaction with their current lives.

The study, titled “Cohort Differences in Depressive Symptoms and Life Satisfaction in 75- and 80-Year-Olds: A Comparison of Two Cohorts 28 Years Apart,” was authored by Tiia Kekäläinen, Kaisa Koivunen, Katja Pynnönen, Erja Portegijs, and Taina Rantanen. It was published in the Journal of Aging and Health on March 22, 2023, and received funding from the Academy of Finland and the European Research Council.

The research took place at the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences and the Gerontology Research Center at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. The first cohort consisted of 617 individuals born between 1910 and 1914 who participated in the Evergreen study in 1989-1990. The second cohort comprised 794 individuals born between 1938-1939 and 1942-1943, who participated in the AGNES study in 2017-2018. Both cohorts were assessed when the participants reached the age of 75 or 80 years.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about mental health improvement

What does the study reveal about the mental health of older adults today?

The study conducted by the University of Jyväskylä reveals that older adults today have better mental health compared to 30 years ago. They experience fewer depressive symptoms and higher life satisfaction, which is attributed to improved health and higher levels of education.

What factors contribute to the improved mental health of older adults?

The improved mental health of older adults can be attributed to better perceived health status and higher education levels among the more recent cohorts. These factors play a significant role in reducing depressive symptoms and enhancing overall life satisfaction.

What were the findings regarding life satisfaction among older adults?

The study found that contemporary 75- and 80-year-olds express greater satisfaction with their lives overall compared to their counterparts from the 1990s. However, there was no significant difference in satisfaction with their current circumstances between the two groups.

Why did older men from the 1990s report higher satisfaction with their current lives?

The study suggests that the increased satisfaction among older men from the 1990s may be influenced by the challenging times they experienced. They may have developed a greater appreciation for the improvements that occurred during that era, leading to higher satisfaction with their present lives.

What were the key details of the study?

The study was conducted at the Gerontology Research Center within the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. It compared the mental well-being of 75- and 80-year-olds today with those from the 1990s. The research involved assessing depressive symptoms and overall life satisfaction of participants. The study received funding from the Academy of Finland and the European Research Council.

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5 comments

John Doe July 14, 2023 - 5:10 am

wow! dis study is awesome! it shows dat old ppl nowadays hav better mental health dan 30 yrs ago! dey feel less sad n more happy. maybe its coz of their health n edukation. gr8 work uni of jyväskylä!

Reply
Emily123 July 14, 2023 - 7:43 am

i didn’t know older ppl r doing bettr mentally now. fewer depression symptoms n more satisfaction in life, dat’s gr8 news! hope we can continue to improve mental health 4 everyone. keep up the good work!

Reply
Bookworm22 July 14, 2023 - 2:33 pm

it’s reassuring 2 hear dat older adults r experiencing bettr mental well-being. fewer depressive symptoms n higher life satisfaction r so important. kudos 2 uni of jyväskylä n their amazing team of researchers!

Reply
Sunflower87 July 14, 2023 - 6:12 pm

ths study gives hope dat we can improve mental health as we age. it’s great 2 c dat older adults today r happier n less sad. gr8 job uni of jyväskylä 4 their research n findings!

Reply
TechGeek87 July 14, 2023 - 9:16 pm

fascinating study! it’s interesting 2 see how older adults today have better mental health. maybe it’s coz of the health improvements n higher ed levels. gud job uni of jyväskylä 4 conducting this research!

Reply

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