AMHERST, Mass. – A new study led by associate professor Rebecca Ready in the department of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has found that older adults have different, more positive responses than young adults about feelings such as serenity, sadness and loneliness.
Ready calls the findings “highly clinically significant” because the information could help caregivers, psychotherapists and workers at assisted living facilities, for example, better understand the emotions of older people in their care, which could lead to improved treatment and quality of interactions. Findings appear in the current online issue of Aging and Mental Health.
She says, “Older adults report feeling more serenity than younger persons. They also have a richer concept of what it means to feel serene than younger persons.” In a word grouping task, older adults associated more positive emotional terms with serene, such as cheerful, happy and joyful, than did younger people. The authors speculate that “this broader conception of serene” is associated with the fact that older adults report more calming positive emotions than younger people.