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Stress in centenarians.

Research paper by Laura L Tafaro, Maria Teresa MT Tombolillo, Nina N Brükner, Giovanni G Troisi, Paolo P Cicconetti, Massimo M Motta, Elisabeth E Cardillo, Ettore E Bennati, Vincenzo V Marigliano

Indexed on: 25 Apr '08Published on: 25 Apr '08Published in: Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics



Abstract

Everybody is subject to a physical clock, determining the calendar age, and also to a biological clock, the speed of which depends on the interaction between the genetic reserves and the environment. Stress is taken into account more and more as one of the main factors responsible for the acceleration of the biological clock and the dishomogeneity of the aging process. Despite the fact that centenarians are prone to chronic stress due to a progressive loss of self-sufficiency, more than a half of our centenarians were not depressed and had a low trait-anxiety: they showed an emotional tendency to react with a low anxiety-intensity to stressful conditions. Their good physical conditions may be explained by a positive character-disposition and by strong adaptability to the adversities of the life. Personality traits can be reduced to five basic phenomena, the so-called Big Five: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness to experience and emotional stability. In our sample 65.4% were classified as extroverted, 50% as open minded and 34.5% showed good emotional stability. In the centenarians aging of all apparatuses was slowed down by a healthy lifestyle and also by good adaptability that allowed for a positive and effective response to stress throughout their whole lives.