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Older people have a greater sense of serenity than young adults, study finds

Older people have a richer concept of what serenity is and experience it more often than younger people, researchers have found.

Despite facing an increased risk of becoming depressed, anxious or lonely in the wrong conditions, older people are more likely to report a recognition and affiliation with a broader range of calming, positive emotions.

The study from the University of Massachusetts Amherst involved 143 participants (32 aged 60 – 92 and 111 aged 18 – 32), who were shown cards with emotional states written on and asked to explain whether the word had a positive or negative connotation in their eyes.  

While there was widespread agreement on terms most strongly associated with serenity (e.g. ‘calm’, ‘at ease’, ‘relaxed’ and ‘resting’), older participants cited a number of other words (‘cheerful’, ‘happy’, ‘joyful’, ‘attentive’ and ‘delighted’) as being linked to the concept with a higher frequency.

Study leader Rebecca Ready commented: “Older adults perceived serene as linked with a broader array of positive emotion terms than younger persons… It is imperative to determine how older adults define emotions differently than younger adults. These data ensure effective communication with older adults, accurate understanding of their emotion experiences, and appropriate access to psychological interventions.”

Fiona Lowry, our CEO, commented: “Misconceptions about the moods of the elderly can often be attributed to the conditions that they are facing. At The Good Care Group, we take care to make sure that both our client’s physical and social needs are met, and have documented many highly beneficial psychological results. At the heart of our method is enabling older people to maintain independence and dignity in their own homes, as undesired institutionalisation can lead to feelings of loneliness and marginalisation.”