“For age is opportunity no less than youth itself, though in another dress, and as the evening twilight fades away, the sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.” – Henry Wadworth Longfellow
We put a lot of money and effort into trying to avoid aging. In our society, getting older is equated with decline — sagging bodies, senior moments, and abandoned dreams. But, even in our youth-obsessed society, there are things about aging that might excite you. Here are some quick ones:
- Most senior citizens have grandchildren.
- There are no penalties for withdrawing money from the Individual Retirement Account (IRA)
- Airlines and hotels give great senior fares.
- Older adults receive senior citizen discounts at restaurants and shops, and everywhere!
- They get access to health insurance (Medicare).
- Once retired, there’s more free time to pursue dreams.
- Older people get away with unusual things, like wearing clothes that don’t match, owning ten cats, or coloring their hair purple.
- Strangers give up their seats for the elderly in waiting rooms and buses.
- Elderly gentleman get called “Sir” without the benefit of knighthood.
- Some medical problems improve with age, like migraines and seasonal allergies.
- The older you are, the less likely you’re a virgin.
- People over fifty experienced the sixties and lived through it.
- If a person is a politician or writer, they don’t reach their peak until they hit their 60’s or 70’s, or even 80’s.
Need more? Read on to learn about other benefits of aging.
Older adults are more content than they used to be. It’s true! For many, growing old makes us think of loss and dissatisfaction, but studies suggest that people are actually happier in their 70’s and 80’s than they were in their middle age years. It seems levels of contentedness tend to climb as the years progress. Negative emotions like anger, panic, and fear become less pronounced. Research also shows that older adults are less prone to mood swings, and they have more resilience when dealing with personal mistakes or slights. They have a stronger sense of identity.
They’re more inspired. According to some experts, advancing years lend heightened creativity. The causes are complex. One theory is that, as they grow older, people develop a keener appreciation for life. Their inner voice grows clearer, and they’re better able to delight in life’s smaller gifts. They’re often more in touch with spirituality and prioritize depth. Many artists, musicians, writers, and other creatives find they do their best work in their later years.
They work more consistently and productively. On a day-to-day basis, older adults show less variability in their work performance than younger adults. They tend to be consistently motivated and have a more balanced routine, lending to improved work output. Senior citizens also tend to plan better. They’re less impulsive and rushed. As a consequence, they have more time to assess a situation, prioritize, focus on what needs to be completed, and thus get things done right. Some elders may be physically slower than the younger generation, but they’re more consistent, motivated, balanced, and in the end more productive. For this reason, older adults make great doctors, attorneys, politicians… and college students!
They have a wealth of experience at their disposal. Aging comes with many gifts, and one of them is memory – lots of memories. When faced with a question or challenge, senior citizens have decades of experience to draw from. According to recent studies, they are better than their younger counterparts at coming up with alternative perspectives, thinking of multiple solutions, and suggesting compromise.
People with a positive perspective about old age tend to enjoy old age. Not quite a benefit of aging, positive perspective benefits aging — and that’s worth including in the list. The way you perceive aging affects how you age. Psychologists assert we can change how we feel by altering the way we describe our experience, especially our experience of the future. This positivity helps us deal with the negative more effectively than the traditional approach of focusing on the negative alone, and this pattern of thinking makes us more content and resilient during our older years. According to recent studies, writing a positive self-prophecy about the future can benefit your heart and memory, diminish your risk of disability, and increase longevity.
So here are the important questions: how do you picture getting old? Do you anticipate happiness, increased productivity and creativity, or do you expect debility and nursing homes? You can begin shaping your self-prophecy of how you’ll age by becoming aware of your current perceptions about aging. If you want to be a creative, witty, overjoyed artist when you get old, you’ve got to start believing you can be that creative, witty, overjoyed artist when you get there. It isn’t easy. Western society tends to value youth, speed, and ambition. I guess in the end it’s important we determine our own aging prophecies by embracing each new year — and remembering that getting old can indeed be exciting.
Thanks for visiting, and don’t forget the exciting stuff about aging!
Great blog, Kim. I am one of the “older” people so I can vouch for what you say!
Anthony Maine says
Hello Dr Kim. Like your psychiatry website. Informative and easy to read. Great caricatures and practical advice. Found the ageing section relevant and interesting and the bit about a positive approach!
Thanks, Anthony. I appreciate the kind remarks!