Links with Stress Management and Sociability
University of South Carolina
Welcome to this month’s Mind
and Body newsletter. Our topic is
being social and managing stress to live longer. A new study finds that people who are
outgoing and manage stress well have the same traits found in the children of
people who live to 100, and longevity is thought to run in families. Researcher Dr. Thomas Perls has
observed these traits and
says they’re important qualities that set centenarian’s children apart from
people the same age who may not age as well.
The study, which focuses
on older people and their family members, has tracked the help of children of
centenarians, people who live to be age 100 or older, as they age. The latest findings are published online in
the Journal of the American Geriatric Society. Dr. Perls has looked at nearly 250 people
whose parents had lived to 100 to see if they had common personality
traits. Most of the children were age
75. They evaluated the levels of five
personality traits: neuroticism,
extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness, and compared them
with published norms for each trait.
They found that the
offspring of centenarians were quite social, established important friendships,
and viewed friendships as social safety nets.
Women in the study also scored high in agreeableness, a trait that might
be helpful in forming friendships. The
men in the study were no higher in agreeableness than the norm. And men and women, both, scored average
levels for openness and conscientiousness.
The researchers found that offspring of centenarians, in their 70s and
early 80s, are following in the footsteps of their parents. They have 60 percent reduced rates of heart
disease, stroke and diabetes, says Dr. Perls.
The latest study findings
don’t surprise Colin Milner, Chief Executive of the International Council on
Active Aging. He says that the
researchers are describing the positive aspects of life. Milner says that his grandmother, who is 98,
has the very traits Dr. Perls found that are associated with longevity. When she became a widow, notes Milner, she
stayed positive and remained open to new experiences and to making new
friends. If you aren’t naturally
outgoing, Dr. Perls reminds us that we can get better at it by making an effort
to be more outgoing. And, if you don’t
have a personality that naturally manages stress, he recommends finding ways to
reduce stress that work for you.
information, always consult your doctor.
Thank you for listening. Please
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