April 7, 2010

SWEDEN: Growing older = Becoming more original

. GOTHENBURG, Sweden / United Press International / Health News / April 7, 2010 The differences among human beings become greater as they age, a Swedish researcher said. Bo Eriksson, a doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, says older people are usually thought of as a rather homogenous group -- ill, lonely and unable to take care of themselves. However, differences among people actually grow with age and stereotypes of the aged are not based on reality, Eriksson said. "The perception of old people having similar interests, values and lifestyles can lead to age discrimination," Eriksson said in a statement. "However, I found that, as people age, these stereotypes become more and more untrue." Eriksson studied the 70th to 90th years of life of participants in the H-70 study -- a group of randomly selected individuals born in 1901 and 1902 and tracked over their entire lifetimes. The study found social mechanisms strengthened one's identity, helping maintain self-esteem through successful responses to challenges and promoting conversational support that may help promote longer life. "Taken together, these mechanisms also contribute to increased everyday activity, which has some beneficial physical effects," Eriksson said. [rc] © 2010 United Press International, Inc