Boosting self-esteem prevents health problems for seniors

The importance of boosting self-esteem is normally associated with the trials and tribulations of adolescence. But new research from Concordia University shows that it's even more important for older adults to maintain and improve upon those confidence levels as they enter their twilight years. That's because boosting self-esteem can help buffer potential health threats typically associated with the transition into older adulthood.

A new study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, led by psychology researchers Sarah Liu and Carsten Wrosch from Concordia University's Centre for Research in Human Development found that boosting can buffer potential health threats in seniors.

While previous research focused on self-esteem levels, Liu and Wrosch examined changes to self-esteem within each individual over time. They found that if an individual's self-esteem decreased, the increased—and vice versa. This association was particularly strong for participants who already had a history of stress or depression.

The research team met with 147 adults aged 60 and over to measure their , self-esteem, stress, and symptoms of depression every 24 months over four years. Self-esteem was measured through standard questions, such as whether the participant felt worthless. The study also took into account personal and health factors like economic status, whether the participant was married or single, and mortality risk.

Results showed that maintaining or even improving self-esteem could help prevent . "Because self-esteem is associated with psychological wellbeing and physical health, raising self-esteem would be an ideal way to help prevent health problems later in life," says Liu.

While it's easier said than done to tell an older adult to "go out and make more friends, or simply enhance their feelings of self-worth," says Liu from a practical standpoint, such steps improve self-esteem.

"Improving self-esteem provides real health benefits in seniors," says Liu. "The ultimate solution may be to prevent self esteem from declining."

While this study looked at cortisol levels, Liu says future research could examine immune function to further illuminate how increases in self-esteem can contribute to patterns of healthy aging.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Admiring celebrities can help improve self-esteem

Jun 05, 2008

A new study appearing in Personal Relationships shows how "connections" to celebrities, i.e. parasocial relationships, can allow people with low-self esteem to view themselves more positively.

Recommended for you

Dyscalculia: Burdened by blunders with numbers

1 hour ago

Between 3 and 6% of schoolchildren suffer from an arithmetic-related learning disability. Researchers at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich now show that these children are also more likely to exhibit deficits ...

Free help for expecting and new mums at risk of depression

3 hours ago

With postnatal depression affecting almost one in seven women giving birth in Australia, QUT and the White Cloud Foundation have launched an innovative model of care to provide early access to treatment for expecting and ...

A blood test for suicide?

7 hours ago

Johns Hopkins researchers say they have discovered a chemical alteration in a single human gene linked to stress reactions that, if confirmed in larger studies, could give doctors a simple blood test to reliably predict a ...

Could summer camp be the key to world peace?

22 hours ago

According to findings from a new study by University of Chicago Booth School of Business Professor Jane Risen, and Chicago Booth doctoral student Juliana Schroeder, it may at least be a start.

User comments