Aging is associated with progressive declines in multiple aspects of immune function and with corresponding increases in vulnerability to immune-related disease. At the same time, older adults consistently report that they are happier and more satisfied with their lives than adults in middle or early adulthood. There is also growing evidence that well-being is not merely the absence of stress and depression, and that it makes unique contributions to health and longevity, particularly in later life. This chapter examines the intersection of these age-related phenomena. With a particular emphasis on two different aspects of well-being—hedonic and eudaimonic—we consider the extent to which greater well-being is associated with healthier profiles of integrated immune responses, functions of specific immune cell types, and molecular aspects of immune regulation. Physiological and behavioral mechanisms that may underlie these associations, as well as the potential to improve well-being in later life, are also considered.
Keywords: hedonic well-being; eudaimonic well-being; psychological resources; purpose in life; social well-being; well-being therapy; immunosenescence
Article. 20573 words.
Subjects: Psychology ; Health Psychology ; Social Psychology
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