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Elderly Individuals Happy If Socially Involved

Happiness also correlated with ability to perform daily activities, lack of chronic conditions

MONDAY, Dec. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly individuals living in the community have a positive emotional state if they have high levels of social involvement, are able to perform essential daily activities and do not have chronic conditions, according to study findings published in the December issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Brenda F. Kurland, Ph.D., from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and colleagues examined factors affecting emotional contentment and happiness in 663 individuals at least 70 years old who were not chronically depressed or disabled. Individuals were followed-up over 54 months at 18-month intervals.

The researchers found that subjects were more emotionally content and happier if they had high levels of social activity and were less so if they needed help with essential daily activities or had more chronic conditions. A positive emotional state remained relatively stable over the follow-up period, the authors note.

"Positive affect is directly correlated with social involvement and inversely correlated with negative affect, instrumental activities of daily living functioning and comorbidity," Kurland and colleagues conclude. "Positive affect was mostly related to factors that do not change over time, although it showed some sensitivity to short- and long-term changes in physical health and functioning."

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