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Feeling Younger, Living Longer

December 23, 2014

People who feel younger than their chronological age are also less likely to die.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

HELEN M BUSHE flickr

How old do you feel? (Helen Bushe/Flickr)

Death perception. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Most older people perceive themselves as younger than their actual age, according to psychologist Andrew Steptoe of University College London.

ANDREW STEPTOE (University College London):

So the average 70-year-old, they say they feel they’re in their early 60s.

HIRSHON:

And when people perceive themselves as younger, they’re also less likely to die. Steptoe and his colleague Isla Rippon tracked more than 6,000 older adults for more than eight years. Nearly 25% of those who felt older than their chronological age died during that period, compared to only 14% of the young at heart. No one factor such as underlying illness, social activity, or economic status could easily account for the relationship between perceived youth and delayed mortality. Steptoe says asking older people how old they feel could important clues to a person’s overall health. The research appears in JAMA Internal Medicine. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.