How age affects our stress reactions

A recent study has found that older adults are better than younger adults at anticipating stressful events at home – but older adults are not as good at using those predictions to reduce the adverse impacts of the stress.

The researchers considered home stress as relating to chores, home maintenance and having too much to do around the house, according to associate professor of psychology at North Carolina State University Shevaun Neupert.

“Older adults – over the age of 60 – predicted and experienced more stressful events at home than younger adults. However, when younger adults – under the age of 36 – did predict these stressful events, those stressors had less of an adverse impact on their moods,” Assoc Prof Neupert said.

The study involved having 107 adults aged 18–36 and 116 adults aged 60–90 complete a survey on eight consecutive days related to stressors, mood, the extent to which they predicted experiencing stress the following day, and how – if at all – they were using anticipatory coping mechanisms to prepare for those stressors.

“We found that accurately predicting home stressors had very little impact on the mood of older adults,” Assoc Prof Neupert explained.

“This really highlights the distinctions between age groups when it comes to predicting and responding to stress in particular contexts.

“For example, this study also looked at stress in the workplace, and we found little difference across age groups. But in the home, the differences were dramatic.”

Read the full study.

What do you think? Are you good at predicting stressful events at home? How do you handle stress at home?

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Written by Ben

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