Do You Have to Be Mentally Sharp to Be a Happy Older Adult?

happy as you age

Think about this for a moment or two. Do you believe that mental sharpness directly relates to being happy as you age? What would be your answer?

Today, I am excited to share the results of sixteen years of data from the Health and Retirement Study, involving more than fifty thousand responses (53,120 to be exact), analyzed by Dr. Anthony Bardo and Dr. Scott M. Lynch at the University of Kentucky and Duke University, respectively.

The recently released findings are ground-breaking in both their findings and implications. For the first time, Dr. Bardo and Dr. Lynch found women at 65 who see themselves as happy live a whopping 14.1 years on average longer, and happy men live 12.5 years longer. That is some great news!

Even more exciting, the team found a full 69.5% of the women and 70.6% of men will keep all their faculties, or cognitive function, intact until the very last years of their lives. 

I hope that sinks in and goes far toward refuting the false information we often hear or see in the media: OLDER ADULTS ARE COGNITIVELY IMPAIRED. This inaccuracy is such a hot button with me that I have contested this erroneous belief in several of my Myth Busters and articles.

The biggest surprise the researchers found in the data reveals that being happy was more important to these seniors than having full cognitive function. In fact, even mild cognitive impairment didn’t change the level of happiness of the respondents. They were happy despite knowing they had a few cognitive issues. 

Think about that for a moment. Let it roll around in your brain pan. We value happiness over full-scale mental acuity. We put our hearts above our heads. Why?

I’ve studied this idea for decades and I think it’s because having a happy heart—coming in anywhere from contentment to joy on the happiness spectrum, gives us a reason to get up in the morning. It reinforces our connection to the world around us and helps us to appreciate all the miracles of this earth. It also strengthens our immune systems. Happiness gives us resiliency, courage, and hope, and it allows love to play a prominent part in our lives. Both intuitively and through decades of experience, these respondents understand the power of being happy.

Learning this new information, I hope, will give you even more reasons to let go of regrets, and embrace forgiveness for those who have knowingly or unknowingly hurt you. I also challenge you to explore ways to live more fully in the present moment, where all our happiness resides. 

Today, I am recommitting myself to these goals. Please join me and add years to your life!

Until next time…Be Vibrant!

<a href=””>People photo created by senivpetro –</a>

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