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Are “Grumpy Old Men” Just a Stereotype?

Aging and Emotional Stability

Grumpy old men, the crazy aunt in the attic, and dirty old men may be stereotypes that have little basis in fact. In fact, studies show that people develop greater emotional stability as they age. As an added bonus, they are also able to better resist temptations in their daily lives.

Gramps and Granny and Uncle Jed and Aunt Rose (Yes, and Mom and Dad, too) may seem a bit eccentric, but recent research reveals that they are better at regulating their emotions than younger generations. In fact, a primary factor in evaluating emotional health is the ability to control emotions. These findings could lay to rest the stereotype that seniors are usually crabmuffins and have questionable mental health.

“There is evidence here that emotional health and regulation improve with age,” said Daisy Burr, a Duke Ph.D. student who led the study with Dr. Gregory Samanez-Larkin, an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience. The study appears in the journal Emotion.

In order to evaluate the test subjects under real-world conditions, people aged 20 to 80 were questioned throughout the day during their normal routines and asked how they felt emotionally and whether they desired anything in particular at that moment, like sleep, work, alcohol, sex, and any number of vices and bad habits. They were also evaluated on their general, average satisfaction with life.

Turns out that emotional stability increased with age, with more level emotions and an increased ability to resist temptations. This has been partly attributed to the older person’s desire to get the most out of life and feel as good as possible. The wisdom of age may also play a part.

There is hope for that young person who throws tantrums — he or she does not have to grow up to be a grumpy old man or crazy aunt!

If you need legal advice in managing an estate, trust, other elder law issue or veteran’s benefits, the Law Office of Scott C. Painter can help. We specialize in elder law issues ranging from nursing home planning, guardianship, wills, trusts, estates, veteran’s benefits, and other related legal matters. Attorney Scott Painter is CELA® certified under the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF).

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