People who feel older than their peers are more likely to be hospitalised as they age, regardless of their actual age or other demographic factors, warns a new study.
According to the researchers, feeling older is linked to a higher risk of hospitalisation.
“How old you feel matters. Previous research has shown it can affect your well-being and other health-related factors and now we know it can predict your likelihood of ending up in the hospital,” said lead author Yannick Stephan from University of Montpellier in France.
The research, published in the journal Health Psychology, analysed data from three longitudinal studies comprising more than 10,000 participants across the US from 1995 to 2013 with the age ranging from 24 to 102.
In each sample, the participant’s subjective age was assessed by asking them how old he or she felt at the beginning of the study.
They were also asked to provide information about previously diagnosed health conditions (high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, lung disease, heart condition, stroke, osteoporosis or arthritis) and answered a questionnaire designed to assess symptoms of depression.
According to the findings, those who reported feeling older than their actual age had 10 to 25 percent increased likelihood of being hospitalised over the next two to 10 years when controlling for age, gender, race and education.
The findings replicated across the three samples.
Further analysis showed that having more depressive symptoms and poorer health helped explain the link between feeling older and being hospitalised.
“People who feel older may benefit from standard health treatments — for example through physical activity and exercise programs, which may reduce their risk of depression and chronic disease, and ultimately their hospitalisation risk,” Stephan noted.