Friendships, Family Ties Get Better with Age

Washington, Jun 26 (IANS): Relationships get better with age as older adults are more willing to forgive and are less prone to conflicts with children and siblings, a new study says.

"Older adults report better marriages, more supportive friendships and less conflict with children and siblings," said Karen Fingerman, professor in gerontology in Purdue University.

"While physical and cognitive abilities decline with age, relationships improve. So what is so special about old age?

"We found that the perception of limited time, willingness to forgive, aging stereotypes and attitudes of respect all play a part. But it's more than just about how younger people treat an older person, it's about how people interact," said Fingerman.

Fingerman and Susan T. Charles, associate professor of psychology and social behaviour at the University of California, Irvine, co-authored the study.

This article is based on their earlier work, including research showing that older adults are less confrontational than younger adults when they are upset.

The article also builds on studies published in 2009 in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and in 2008 in the journal Psychology and Aging.

One study compared young adults, aged 22-35, and older adults, aged 65-77, by asking the participants to respond to several stories about personal interactions, according to a Purdue release.

"With age, people get better at regulating their emotions when something upsets them," Fingerman said.

"The other advantage is that older people often have more opportunity to select who they want to associate with because they are retired and do not go to work."

These findings were published in this month's Current Directions in Psychological Science.



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