By Sally Mathiesen
According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health, the majority of older Americans are able to cope effectively with the changes commonly associated with later life. People are reaching age 65 “in better physical and mental health than in the past,” says the report.
What is mental health for older adults? Important aspects include stable intellectual functioning, the ability to change and remaining engaged with life. As we age, we tend to learn at a slower pace and may need more repetition of new information. Most older adults complain about memory problems, yet these complaints do not match actual memory performance, according to several studies.
One large study of healthy older adults found that cognitive performance was most dependent upon the person’s number of years of education, suggesting that education not only provides benefits in earlier life but may sustain productive behavior as we age.