LiveWell Powered b The Columbian

3/13/12
Many seniors are grinning through the golden years The Columbian
Print this article
Login
Place an Ad
Subscribe
e-Edition
eNewsletters
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Search
LiveWell Powered b The Columbian
Jump to content
News
Local
Northwest
Politics
Nation
&
World
Weather
Traffic
Community
Press
Talk
Live
Well
Podcast
Forums
Sports
Local
Blazers
Nation
&
World
Community
Preps
www.columbian.com/news/2012/mar/04/grinning-through-the-golden-years/
1/11
3/13/12
Many seniors are grinning through the golden years The Columbian
Outdoors
Greg
Jayne
Business
Local
Innovate
Clark
County
Life
Local
Weekend
Events
Local
Celebrities
Coping
with
Cancer
Dining
Out
In
Style
Submit
a
Milestone
Opinion
Editorials
Letters
to
the
Editor
Columns
John
Laird
Editorial
Cartoons
Blogs
Latest
Staff
Public
Blogs
Create
a
Blog
Community
Neighbors
Garage
Sales
Datacenter
www.columbian.com/news/2012/mar/04/grinning-through-the-golden-years/
2/11
3/13/12
Many seniors are grinning through the golden years The Columbian
Vitals &
Statistics
Death
Notices
Obituaries
Submit
Paid
Obituary
Submit
Free
Death
Notice
Find a Business
Classifieds
Jobs
Motors
Real Estate
Man seniors are grinning through the golden ears
Research indicates happiness increases after age 50
Photo by Steven Lane
www.columbian.com/news/2012/mar/04/grinning-through-the-golden-years/
3/11
3/13/12
Many seniors are grinning through the golden years The Columbian
Resident Rocky Cortese, 94, dances with activities director Michelle Avdienko during a wine and cheese social hour at
Vancouver s Glenwood Place Senior Living. Research suggests older people are happier than younger ones. Staying
active helps enhance seniors health and happiness.
By Paris Achen
Columbian Staff Reporter
Sunday, March 4, 2012
0
submit
More like this
In our view: Respect for Elders
Aging brains can still be growing brains
Need for medical professionals who serve seniors growing
Computer clubs spur more seniors to log on
Domestic partnerships will end for some couples
Related column
Visit Live Well this week for tips on how to exercise: Over age 50, fitness classes bring balance, by Kim Lehmann,
fitness director at Touchmark Health & Fitness.
Photo by Steven Lane
Residents, from left, Donna Fenter, 81, Denny Barnhard, 85, Lee Brown, 84, and Vi Robison, 83, attend a wine and
cheese social hour at Glenwood Place Senior Living, Friday, February 24, 2012.
Photo by Steven Lane
Resident Larry Hayden, 89, dances with activities director Michelle Avdienko during a wine and cheese social hour at
www.columbian.com/news/2012/mar/04/grinning-through-the-golden-years/
4/11
3/13/12
Many seniors are grinning through the golden years The Columbian
Glenwood Place Senior Living on Friday.
Photo by Steven Lane
Resident Maxine Hess, 82, moves to the rhythm of live music at a wine and cheese social hour at Vancouver s
Glenwood Place Senior Living. Research indicates older people are happier than younger ones. One explanation is
Stanford University professor Laura Carstensen s theory of “socio-emotional selectivity,” the idea that people invest in
what makes them happy when time is limited.
Despite experiencing the death of a spouse, thinning hair and other age-related tribulations, 69-year-old Allen Thayer of
Vancouver is generally happier than he was in his younger days.
“I have no idea why,” the retired physician said. “I just live in the moment, and I run every morning.”
Growing old comes with plenty of unpleasantness, from arthritis to loss of loved ones. The trade-off, however, may be a
boost in happiness, according to researchers.
Several bodies of research indicate Americans happiness climbs after age 50 regardless of income, employment or
children. Happiness increases in old age around the globe. At what age happiness builds depends on region and culture.
“Happiness is so subjective, but certainly there is a lot of consistent research that shows people get happier with age,”
said Cory Bolkan, assistant professor of human development at Washington State University Vancouver.
A recent study involving telephone interviews of 340,847 Americans found a U-bend of happiness as Americans aged,
according to research psychologists Arthur Stone, Joseph Schwartz and Joan Broderick. Happiness mounted until age
30, then, took a dive in the 40s, followed by a rebound after 50. People in their 80s scored the highest for happiness.
“It s interesting because, when asked, people tend to have the perception that most older people are unhappy and that
happiness is going to decline with age, but if you ask old people about how they feel, they re pretty happy,” Bolkan
said.
One explanation for this belated gift in life is the “socio-emotional selectivity” theory by Laura Carstensen, a psychology
professor and director of the Stanford Center on Longevity. The theory contends that people invest in what is most
important to them when time is limited. The phenomenon also is observed in those who have had a terminal disease.
“There is a shift in priorities and goals and what s important as we age,” Bolkan said. “For older people facing mortality,
their goals may be more emotionally focused. Personal relationships and friendships are very important to them. They
live in the present moment. All of these things increase happiness.”
Donna Fenter, 81, said she enjoys living at Glenwood Place Retirement Community in Vancouver because of the
friendships she s formed there.
“We have fun all the time, and if you don t, it s your own fault,” Fenter said.
www.columbian.com/news/2012/mar/04/grinning-through-the-golden-years/
5/11
3/13/12
Many seniors are grinning through the golden years The Columbian
“We re co-conspirators,” Fenter s friend Denny Barnhart, 85, whispered mischievously. “We re just a lot of trouble.”
Barnhart, a retired manager of a credit union, said she prefers her life now.
“I was working 10 years ago,” she said. “Now, I have fun.”
Research, including some by Ed Diener, psychology professor at the University of Illinois, also suggests happy people
are healthier and live longer. That raises the question of whether older people are happier as an accessory of age or
whether happy people simply are more likely to make it into old age.
There s no definitive answer to that question, Bolkan said.
“It could be possible pessimists die earlier,” Bolkan said. “If they re dying earlier, we are not going to count them
(among the old and happy).”
Another recent study by Derek Isaacowitz, associate professor of psychology at Northeastern University in Boston,
found older people focused less on negative images than younger people.
Isaacowitz used eye tracking to find out what participants were looking at when a series of negative and positive images
were presented to them. He compared two groups: one with participants between 18 and 25 years old and another 60
and older.
“Older people looked less at negative material,” Isaacowitz said.
Meanwhile, younger people looked at negative material and looked at it for longer than older people. Isaacowitz said he
doesn t know why older people focus less on negativity than younger ones. But even when coached to avoid negative
images, younger people continued to look at them, he said.
“One possibility is older people have had different sorts of experiences that may help them learn how to regulate how
they feel,” he said. “Younger people may have more around them that they re curious about. They may engage in
emotion by looking at negative material. Older people may regulate their emotions by not looking.”
Not everyone agrees that old age is the happiest time of life.
Florence Moore, 96, of Vancouver said she has been happy all her life, except when she was ill with undiagnosed
asthma during her childhood.
“I think you make your own happiness,” Moore said.
Indeed, age is not the lone predictor of happiness. Personality type, health, independence, stress levels and social
relationships all influence how happy people may feel, Bolkan said. But regardless of those other factors, the likelihood
is people will feel better the older they are, she said.
“The best therapy is age,” Isaacowitz added.
Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Trends;
http://facebook.com/ColTrends; [email protected]
Rate this
You must be logged in to rate this.
www.columbian.com/news/2012/mar/04/grinning-through-the-golden-years/
6/11
3/13/12
Many seniors are grinning through the golden years The Columbian
Current Rating : Nobody has rated this article yet.
Click here for a short survey about commenting on our website. Win $50 Beaches certificate.
Please take a second to review our community guidelines.
Ads b Google Life Fitness Seniors Happiness Elderl
360 Daily Deal
360 Marketplaces
Fork Fly
Best of Clark County
Columbian Mobile Site
Place your ad on Columbian.com
Print this Coupon for No Application Fee
360Marketplaces.columbian.com
Grover Getaway!
Pack your bags for a TRAIL BLAZERS VIP weekend! 360marketplaces.com
www.columbian.com/news/2012/mar/04/grinning-through-the-golden-years/
7/11
3/13/12
Many seniors are grinning through the golden years The Columbian
FREE SALES TAX!! We Pay It!!
We pay your Sales Tax for you on every purchase,...
Search
View All Ads & Coupons
$20 Deal for $10 from Peachtree Restaurant & Pie House
Value Discount Save
$20.00 50%
$10.00
Sign up FREE to receive dail deals!
Email: En er Email
Subscribe
Karen Magistrale - Retail Advertising Representative
Advertising & Marketing Services, Business Services, Business to Business, Internet ...
701 W 8th Street
Vancouver, WA
www.columbian.com/news/2012/mar/04/grinning-through-the-golden-years/
8/11
3/13/12
Many seniors are grinning through the golden years The Columbian
360-735-4488
Find all LOCAL businesses on 360Marketplaces.com.
Steven Rice Fitness
Personal Training for Functional Strength,
Performance, and Health
stevenricefitness.com/
Cut Assisted Living Costs
Secrets Revealed in Free Report. Protect Your
Family, Home & Savings
www.CutAssistedLivingCosts.com
Long Term Care Insurance
California residents can Compare & Save with
Multiple Free Quotes.
www.FreeLTCQuotes.com
www.columbian.com/news/2012/mar/04/grinning-through-the-golden-years/
9/11
3/13/12
Many seniors are grinning through the golden years The Columbian
homeinstead.com
Ads b Google
News
Local
Northwest
Nation & World
FYI
Press Talk
Weather
RSS
Mobile
Sports
Local
Blazers
Greg Jayne
Community
Preps
Outdoors
Business
www.columbian.com/news/2012/mar/04/grinning-through-the-golden-years/
10/11
3/13/12
Many seniors are grinning through the golden years The Columbian
Local
Multimedia
Photos
Galleries
Videos
Photo Store
Life
Local
Weekend
Neighbors
Events
Opinion
Editorials
John Laird
Letters to the Editor
Columns
Community
Data Center
Vitals
Death Notices
Obituaries
Blogs
Newspapers in Education
Advertising
Classifieds
Online
Motors
Find Vancouver, WA Jobs
Real Estate
Special Sections
Services
Contact Us
Subscribe
Advertise
Archives
E-newsletters
Privacy Policy
Terms of Service
Community Guidelines
Columbian Publishing Company
Copyright 2012 columbian.com. All rights reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our user agreement.
Back to top
www.columbian.com/news/2012/mar/04/grinning-through-the-golden-years/
11/11