NEW YORK — They say age is more about state of mind than the date on your birth certificate, but a new survey of 2,000 Americans over 40 is challenging that narrative. According to the research, the average American starts feeling old at the age of 47. Similarly, the average respondent starts to really worry about age-related bodily changes around 50 years old.
The unstoppable passage of time is apparently a big worry among Americans. In all, 65% say that growing old in general is among their top fears. When asked about specifics, nearly half say they’re mostly concerned about the mental declines that so often come with old age. On a related note 64% worry that their thinking abilities won’t last as long as their physical health.
Surprisingly, most participants aren’t nearly as concerned about losing their youthful looks. Only one in four are concerned about looking unattractive in old age. One in four people worry they’ll lose touch with what’s “hip and cool” once they’re elderly.
Fears of losing our minds in old age
Commissioned by Elysium Health, the survey also notes 56% of Americans worry about their brain health on a regular basis. That may sound excessive at first, but consider that nearly half of respondents also report a family history of age-related memory loss. Furthermore, two-thirds say their memory is already a shell of what it once was.
Many (25%) lose their train of thought once per day, and others (20%) lose track of their thoughts multiple times per day. Over half (58%) frequently forget people’s names moments after meeting them. Astoundingly, 38% even need a few moments to remember their significant other’s birthday.
So, it’s clear that most Americans are at least aware of age-related memory deterioration. Troublingly, however, 84 percent say they’re doing nothing at all to boost their brain health.
What we eat impacts what we remember
“While more than half of respondents correctly identified that excessive alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, and lack of sleep all accelerate the rate of brain volume loss that occurs as we age, only 41% thought that poor eating habits would also have an impact,” says Elysium Health CEO Eric Marcotulli. “Unfortunately, it is not surprising that most people do not associate dietary choices with long-term brain health. Despite the general understanding that omega-3s are good for brain health, 80% of Americans do not get the two weekly servings of fatty fish recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.”
Unfortunately, all of the stress and anxiety caused by COVID-19 has made maintaining a healthy lifestyle that much more difficult. Since the pandemic began, 38 percent say they’ve been getting worse sleep, over 20 percent have been eating a less healthy diet, and 14 percent have been drinking more alcohol.
The survey was conducted by OnePoll.