• Home
  • |
  • Blog
  • |
  • Gratitude Improves Longevity in Older Women

July 4, 2024

Gratitude Improves Longevity in Older Women

How gratitude improves longevity
Artwork courtesy of Pixabay

Gratitude Improves Longevity in Older Women

We have written a few posts over the years on the importance of gratitude and its effects on health. Those articles are usually published around Thanksgiving and have been focused on the relationship between gratitude and happiness and improvement in health. But this recent article published in JAMA Psychiatry addresses the importance of gratitude as it specifically relates to longevity in older women.

JAMA Study

Older women who scored the highest on questionnaire measuring gratitude had 9% lower risk of dying prematurely from any cause. The study analyzed data from the long-term Nurse’s Health Study and assessed responses to six questions (validated Gratitude Questionnaire) of 49,275 women over age 79. Deaths in those women were  looked at three years later.

There were 4,608 deaths at that three year mark. The most common cause of death, as you might expect, was from heart disease. There were

  • 1364 deaths from cardiovascular disease
  • 273 from cancer
  • 406 from respiratory disease
  • 492 from neurodegenerative disease
  • 114 from infection, 70 from injury
  • 1889 from other causes

Gratitude protected against every cause of death but was most significant in protecting against heart disease. Those who reported greater gratitude were slightly younger; were more likely to be married or in partnership; had higher socioeconomic status; had greater social participation, religious involvement, displayed higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness, and optimism; and were healthier and less depressed at baseline.

Does any of that sound like you?

The Gratitude Questionnaire

Here are the six questions you can poll yourself and see how much gratitude you display

1. I have so much in life to be thankful for.
2. If I had to list everything that I felt grateful for, it would be a very long list.
3. When I look at the world, I don’t see much to be grateful for.
4. I am grateful to a wide variety of people.
5. As I get older I find myself more able to appreciate the people, events, and situations that
have been part of my life history.
6. Long amounts of time can go by before I feel grateful to something or someone.

Response options ranges from 1 (strongly disagree)  to 7 (strongly agree). Questions 3 and 6 are reversed score so that the highest score reflects a higher degree of gratitude.

Based on the Gratitude Questionnaire women were divided into three groups based on their scores; lowest gratitude (15,814 women), middle (15,115 women), and highest level of gratitude (18,346 women).

How Gratitude Improves Longevity

There are some theories on how gratitude improves longevity.

Expressing gratitude may be important for producing a sense of purpose and connectedness in older adults. Social connectedness has been shown important in longevity in those who live in Blue Zones – areas where higher numbers than usual of people live to over a 100 hundred years of age.

The socioemotional selective theory  proposesthat people become more aware that their lifetime is limited as they age. This heightened awareness leads older adults to prioritize engagement in meaningful events and developing close relationships.

While gratitude is found in all populations it many times has a deep spiritual background. In many religious communities, positive aspects of life, such as health and love, are seen as gifts with appreciation. Some aspects of religious practice may be associated with reduced risks of mortality and morbidity.

How to Display More Gratitude

Expressing gratitude seems to have many health benefits and there are some techniques you can use to improve how much gratitude you show. These include keeping a gratitude journal, participating in gratitude expressing “exercises”, and grateful contemplation.

Improve your health and longevity. Start each day taking time to reflect all the people and things you are grateful for, but don’t stop there. Make sure actions throughout the day reflect that gratitude.

Related Posts

Gratitude Improves Longevity in Older Women

Gratitude Improves Longevity in Older Women

Avoid The 5 B’s and More: Excess Estrogen Symptoms

Avoid The 5 B’s and More: Excess Estrogen Symptoms

Why Is There No Generic Premarin?

Why Is There No Generic Premarin?

Why Some Women Do and Some Do Not: Receive HRT That Is!

Why Some Women Do and Some Do Not: Receive HRT That Is!

Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}