Older people, it turns out, have a higher ratio of positive to negative feelings. Part of this is due to the fact that older people have developed coping skills and can look back on accomplishments and goals. Anger lessens and we feel more joy.
For those not feeling so worry free, Dr. Brassen and his colleagues at the Geriatric Mental health Foundation decided to develop a treatment program for the elderly who were depressed and unable to focus on the positives. The treatment involves learning to better adapt to life circumstances and focusing on accomplished goals and positive experiences.
Dr. Laura Castensen at Stanford University does caution the elderly to not be too trusting, especially when it comes to scam artists who regularly target the elderly. Case in point, my elderly father gave personal information to a scam artist posing as someone who was going to deliver a hospital bed for my ill mom. My dad simply trusted the telephone caller who turned out to not be who he said he was. Dad was vulnerable because he trusted in the good will of people and didn’t ask enough questions.
So the bottom line is to be aware of those who prey on the elderly, but also approach aging with optimism. Our positive emotions help us live longer and happier lives.