A common myth about aging is that older adults are burdened by illness and feel lousy much of the time. In fact, the opposite is usually true. Most seniors report feeling distinctly positive about their health.
This trend toward positivity is also evident among adults age 75 and older: 73% of this group said their health was excellent (12%), very good (28%) or good (33%), while only 27% gave a fair (20%) or poor (7%) evaluation.
How could this be true when the majority of older adults — about 60% — have two or more chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, heart disease or kidney disease, and higher rates of physical impairment than other age groups?
The answer lies in how older adults think about their health. For many, good health means more than the lack of illness or disability. The components of health they tend to value more are vitality, emotional well-being, positive social relationships, remaining active and satisfaction with life, while poor physical functioning plays a less important role.
Sometimes, surveys assess self-rated mental health separately, and results for older adults again overturn common assumptions about negativity associated with older age.