In general, the researchers found only a few protective factors against these higher levels of stress -- people who self-reported that they had good health tended to live longer and married men also fared better. Moderate drinkers also lived longer than non-drinkers.
"Being a teetotaler and a smoker were risk factors for mortality," said Carolyn Aldwin, lead author of the study and a professor of human development and family sciences at Oregon State University. "So perhaps trying to keep your major stress events to a minimum, being married and having a glass of wine every night is the secret to a long life."
This is the first study to show a direct link between stress trajectories and mortality in an aging population. Unlike previous studies that were conducted in a relatively short term with smaller sample sizes, this study was modified to document major stressors -- such as death of a spouse or a putting a parent into a retirement home -- that specifically affect middle-aged and older people.