Healthy Aging, Longevity Associated with Personality
Children of parents who live to be 100 have been found to have distinct personality traits that seem to be inherited and contribute to healthy aging and longevity.
Boston University School of Medicine researchers conducted a study of centenarians, finding that longevity runs in families. The children studied experienced delays in heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. Personality traits associated with healthy aging included agreeableness, extroversion, and low levels of neuroticism.
Studies involving children of centenarians have shown that, compared to the norm, children whose parents live a long life have a 120 percent lower mortality. They live longer and experience healthy aging by avoiding typical age-related illnesses until much later in life.
The study authors say, "Interestingly, whereas men and women generally differ substantially in their personality characteristics, the male and female offspring (of centenarians) tended to be similar, which speaks to the importance of these traits, irrespective of gender, for health aging and longevity”.
Thomas Perls, MD, MPH, director of the New England Centenarian Study, and senior study author says the reason children of centenarians live longer may be in the way they handle stress, contributing to longevity and healthy aging. . "For example, people who are lower in neuroticism are able to manage or regulate stressful situations more effectively than those with higher neuroticism levels. Similarly, high extraversion levels have been associated with establishing friendships and looking after yourself."
Dr. Perls says studies are underway that may tell us why some people live longer than others do. Maybe the secret to healthy aging is in our genes – or perhaps living longer is as simple as maintaining an outgoing personality, not worrying, and remaining agreeable with whatever comes our way.