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Feeling Younger Can Help People to Rehabilitate Faster: Bar-Ilan Study

Researchers at Bar-Ilan University have discovered that, even in old age, having a youthful outlook can boost the likelihood of successful recovery from medical issues

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Transcontinental Times Staff
Transcontinental Times Staffhttps://www.transcontinentaltimes.com
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ISRAEL: The phrase “You’re only as old as you feel” is becoming more accurate as research shows that people younger than their actual age tend to be healthier and more psychologically resilient.

Could the expression also hold for older people recuperating from physical disabilities? Researchers at Bar-Ilan University have discovered that, even in old age, having a youthful outlook can boost the likelihood of successful recovery from medical issues. Their research was released in the Gerontology journal. The Israeli Ministry of Science, Technology, and Space funded the study.

The fascinating research

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The study followed 194 adult patients, aged 73 to 84, who were being treated for osteoporotic fractures or strokes at various rehab centres throughout Israel.

The two health conditions that older individuals fear the most are fractures (usually brought on by falls) and stroke. Both of these conditions frequently cause the loss of one’s functional independence.

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Multiple interviews with patients were conducted throughout their recuperation. They were questioned about their feelings, experiences, and subjective age (how young they felt).

The Functional Independence Measurement (FIM) exam was used by nursing staff to evaluate the patients’ functional independence at both admission and discharge.

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Patients who felt younger (had a younger subjective age) during hospital admission displayed improved functional independence at discharge around one month later.

The effect of feeling younger was found both for patients rehabilitated from osteoporotic fractures (mainly due to falls) and those rehabilitated from a stroke. The researchers also discovered that people who felt younger recovered more quickly because they had greater hope for regaining their functioning abilities.

“The effect of subjective age at admission on functional independence at discharge was confirmed,” says Prof. Amit Shrira from the Gerontology Program at the Department of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, who led the study with Prof. Ehud Bodner, also from the Interdisciplinary Social Sciences department. 

“However, the reverse effect of functional independence at admission on subjective age at discharge was not confirmed. This supports the conclusion that a younger age identity is an important psychological construct that contributes to more successful rehabilitation,” added Shrira, who conducted the research with Dr Daphna Magda Kalir from the Gender Studies Program, among others.

Surprisingly, subjective age outperformed patients’ chronological age and the presence of numerous chronic health issues (physical multimorbidity) at the time of admission as the best predictor of rehabilitation success.

In establishing prognosis, health care professionals typically take into account chronological age and physical multimorbidity, although subjective age is mostly unknown to practitioners.

“Those who feel younger can maintain their health and functioning for longer periods, and as the current study shows, can recuperate better from disability. Therefore, people may preserve a healthy and vigorous lifestyle by perceiving themselves to age successfully,” says Shrira.

Given the findings, the researchers suggest that clinicians consider evaluating patients’ subjective age when they design rehabilitation protocols. Older people may be more motivated to follow the rehabilitation programme after an osteoporotic fracture or stroke if their subjective age is younger.

Future study could help in developing treatments intended to make patients feel younger subjectively, which could aid in their more successful rehabilitation.

These interventions could aid in correcting erroneous assumptions about ageing and contain cognitive strategies that assist in modifying unfavourable automatic thoughts about ageing.

Also Read: How To Reduce Eye Fatigue in The Digital Era


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