CORVALLIS, Ore. (CBS Seattle) – A new study has found that men become more unhappy when they reach age 70.
Researchers at Oregon State University found that perceptions of unhappiness or dealing with “hassles” increases once men are about 65-70 years old.
“In general, life gets better as you age in the sense that older adults on average have fewer hassles – and respond to them better – than younger adults,” Carolyn Aldwin, a gerontology professor in the College of Public Health and Human Services at Oregon State University and lead author on the study, said in a press release. “And they also experienced more uplifts – a least, until their mid-70s. But once you turn 70, how you react to these hassles changes and may be dependent on your resources or your situation in life.”
Researchers used data from the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study that looked at 1,315 men ages 53 to 85 years of age. The men in the study were initially in good health at the beginning of the study in the 1960s and were predominantly white.
The study’s goal was to observe the emotional reactions of older adults and evaluate whether three established models of aging had validity.
“One of those models, known as the hedonic treadmill model, suggests that how happy or unhappy you are is relatively stable through your life, outside of a few up-or-down blips,” the press release explained. “A second theory posits that in general things get better as you age, while the third says your life will spiral downhill rapidly once you turn 80.”
Researchers found some support for all three models depending on the age of the men and if they were looking at hassles or uplifts.
Aldwin explained that some men responded more intensely to life’s ups and downs than others did, but variables among individuals exists.
“What we found was that among 80 percent of the men in the study, the hassles they encounter from their early 50s on tended to decline until they reached about 65 to 70 years of age, and then they rose,” Aldwin said. “Conversely, about 20 percent of the men perceived experiencing more uplifting events until they turned 65-70 and they begin to decline.”
The perceptions of the men over events in their lives were used for the study in terms of how they responded to those events, Aldwin said.
“Some older people continue to find sources of happiness late in life despite dealing with family losses, declining health, or a lack of resources,” she said. “You may lose a parent, but gain a grandchild. The kids may leave the house, but you bask in their accomplishments as adults. You find value in gardening, volunteering, care giving or civic involvement.”
Researchers from Boston University also helped conduct the study in addition to researchers from Oregon State University. Study results will be published in the journal Psychology and Aging.