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Older people who take analysis of subtle clues in their environment to resolve existing ailments are likely to be happier and healthier, a Japanese study suggests.

Analyzing clues of, for example, how we age or how we think may be an effective way to develop better mental health, according to the study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

“For example, assessing the age of the personality fundamental needed for our happiness could strengthen the quality of our lives,” said study coauthor Yoshitake Nishida. ““The bottom line is that we should increase our mental well-being of elders.”

To date, little research has studied the impact of environmental factors on workers with advancing higher education, Nishida told Reuters Health by email. This includes researchers who aren’t invited to speak to top managers, who don’t necessarily agree with them.

The researchers analyzed data on more than 2,000 adults from Japan’s Toshio University study, which is a longitudinal cohort in which participants have a brain scan between the ages of 50 and 80, for 13 years.

Olderly people were interviewed for depression, self-esteem, caregiver involvement, neighborhood influence, physical activities, neighborhood and residential address, and educational levels.

Only 8% of participants said they had experienced depression at any point during the 13 years. Isolated older adults who had experienced depression were less socially integrated than those who didn’t experience depression.

Clinicians caring for them might improve their quality of life if the patient were enrolled into Japanese cognitive-programming classes. This would decrease loneliness and other negative life stressors, the study authors say.

Overall, 92 percent of those who found improvement in their depressive mood score also reported improvement in their physical condition, according to the results in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

“We think there is a difference between those who found improvement and those who did not,” said Nishida. “As the data from the test was based on self-report, it is very unlikely that the effect observed was a direct physiological consequence.”

The study points to “the widespread potential and easy availability” of novel interventions to help older people become happier and healthier, he added.

“Advance screening for mood problems in elders and their care is fertile ground for if-then interventions and practical information,” Nishida said.