Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman

Positive Aging

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_101976-1



Positive aging incorporates concepts and research from developmental psychology, gerontology, and positive psychology to understand and improve the health and broader well-being of older adults (usually defined as those over 65 years old). It is the ability to adapt positively to and make the best of the experiences of aging, including maintaining well-being in the face of age-related events and transitions (such as multiple chronic illnesses and disabilities, sensory decline, caregiving duties, and bereavement). The term positive aging developed out of dissatisfaction with the term successful aging, which (at least initially) required the absence of both chronic illnesses and cognitive decline. Many older adults describe themselves as aging successfully despite having chronic illnesses and functional decline, and their own definitions of successful aging include not merely health, but also activity,...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References and Further Reading

  1. Greeson, J. M., Chin, G. R. (2019). Mindfulness and physical disease: a concise review. Current Opinion in Psychology, 28, 204–210.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2018.12.014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Hill, R. D., & Smith, D. J. (2015). Positive aging: At the crossroads of positive psychology and geriatric medicine. In P. A. Lichtenberg, B. T. Mast, B. D. Carpenter, & J. Loebach Wetherell (Eds.), APA handbook of clinical geropsychology, vol 1: History and status of the field and perspectives on aging (pp. 301–329). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  3. Huffman, J. C., Beale, E. E., Celano, C. M., Beach, S. R., Belcher, A. M., Moore, S. V., … Januzzi, J. L. (2016). Effects of optimism and gratitude on physical activity, biomarkers, and readmissions after an acute coronary syndrome.: The gratitude research in acute coronary events study, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, 9(1), 55–63.  https://doi.org/10.1161/circoutcomes.115.002184.Google Scholar
  4. Krause, N., & Hayward, D. (2012). Religion, meaning in life, and change in physical functioning during late adulthood. Journal of Adult Development, 19, 158–169.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10804-012-9143-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ong, A. D., Mroczek, D. K., & Riffin, C. (2011). The health significance of positive emotions in adulthood and later life. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 5(8), 538–551.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-9004.2011.00370.x.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Perez-Blasco, J., Sales, A., Meléndez, J. C., & Mayordomo, T. (2016). The effects of mindfulness and self-compassion on improving the capacity to adapt to stress situations in elderly people living in the community. Clinical Gerontologist, 39(2), 90–103.  https://doi.org/10.1080/07317115.2015.1120253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Perry, T. E., Ruggiano, N., Shtompel, N., & Hassevoort, L. (2015). Applying Erikson’s wisdom to self-management practices of older adults: Findings from two field studies. Research on Aging, 37(3), 253–274.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0164027514527974.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Redwine, L. S., Henry, B. L., Pung, M. A., Wilson, K., Chinh, K., Knight, B., … Mills, P. J. (2016). Pilot randomized study of a gratitude journaling intervention on heart rate variability and inflammatory biomarkers in patients with stage B heart failure. Psychosomatic Medicine, 78(6), 667–676.  https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000000316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Westerhof, G. J., Miche, M., Brothers, A. F., Barrett, A. E., Diehl, M., Montepare, J. M., … Wurm, S. (2014). The influence of subjective aging on health and longevity: A meta-analysis of longitudinal data. Psychology & Aging, 29(4), 793–802.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0038016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kerry A. Sherman
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Emotional Health, Department of PsychologyMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia