The Upside of Aging


Aging is inevitable. Everyone who lives long enough grows old. The good news is that age has its advantages. The upsides of aging go beyond collecting Social Security and bouncing grandchildren on one’s knee. On the whole, older adults are a lot happier with this time of life than people generally realize.

Seniors Are Happier and Mentally Healthier

Older adults don’t deal with anxiety and depression as much as younger and middle-aged people do. They’ve learned to keep their emotions on an even keel. It may be because they’ve been through many ups and downs over a lifetime, and they know that downtimes don’t last…definitely one of the benefits of aging.

Seniors appear to be more empathetic. Studies suggest they’re more skilled than younger adults at seeing another person’s point of view. They’re skilled at coming up with more than one solution for disputes and suggesting compromises. A lifetime of developing social skills has enabled them to avoid getting upset by sticky interpersonal situations.

Though some of them will be dealing with dementia, memory loss and other forms of cognitive decline as the years march on, most are surprisingly happy and balanced in the present.

Older Adults Have Perspective

A lifetime of experience helps a person distinguish between what’s important and what isn’t. They have less need for little things to go their way. They’re less likely to beat their heads against the wall fighting battles they won’t win. This may be because passions and emotions don’t run as hot in them as they once did.

Seniors tend to be more grateful. They’re grateful that they’ve made it this far and still have more to enjoy. They’re thankful for the people in their lives.

Aging people are disinclined to worry about fashions and fads. In general, they’re not going to be criticized for choosing clothes that are comfortable rather than those that are in style. For example, cargo pants may be passe, but a man in his seventies has earned the right to wear whatever he pleases. And it is now unremarkable for Granny to wear the faddish ripped jeans.

Most older folks have stopped worrying about whether they’re keeping up with the Joneses. They’re more interested in their relationships with their friends, family and grandchildren than in what the world at large thinks of them.

Most senior citizens have developed a good idea of what they can control and what they can’t. They don’t sweat the small stuff.

Also, most seniors have learned to get maximum enjoyment from simple pleasures: a walk on a fine day, lunch with friends, and the sight of grandchildren playing. They’re more likely to live in the moment than spend time worrying about the future.

Seniors Have More Choice about How To Spend Their Time 

Most older adults reach the point where they’re working part-time or not working for a paycheck at all. That doesn’t mean they’re not engaged in life. In fact, one of the most common comments you hear from retired folks is, “I don’t know how I ever found all that time to go to work.”

It’s amazing what you can do when earning a living is no longer near the top of your priority list. You can travel, learn a new language, and you can take college courses merely for the sheer pleasure of learning something new. You can volunteer or get involved in local civic affairs. You can paint. You can mentor young folks. You can write a book.

Back to School

An impressive number of oldsters choose to become adept at some form of technology. The stereotype may be the kids showing their elders how to use electronics, but the reality is sometimes the other way around.

Many seniors stay busy, but they don’t stress themselves by trying to squeeze 26 hours of activity into a 24-hour day. Working adults often stay up late and get up early in order to meet their many obligations. They deprive themselves of sleep, and many are perpetually tired.

Healthy aging people have a lot on their calendar, but typically they don’t cram activities one on top of the other. They don’t deny themselves the rest they need so they can get just one more task accomplished.

If they tire in the afternoon, people with jobs have to suck down another cup of coffee and keep going. Older adults are more often in a position to slip off and catch a short nap.

For people in their working years, only a small part portion of their hours are discretionary, where they can pursue hobbies, relax or spend time with family. An upside of aging is that you have much more control over how you schedule your life.

The Perks of Aging

There are a number of obvious perks that come with aging. Examples are Social Security and Medicare. Many retired people have plans that keep sending them checks even after they’ve stopped working. A lot of older folks own their homes outright and no longer make house payments.

Many seniors are in a position to be generous, not only with their time but also with the wealth they have accumulated. They can contribute to charities and political causes, and give generously to their children and grandchildren. They might be able to fund college savings accounts for their progeny. They may have acquired assets such as a vacation home that they can open up to family and friends.

And, of course, there are those senior discounts – restaurants, motels, thrift stores, movie admissions, just about anywhere advanced years will get you a few dollars off.

Spoiling the Grandchildren

Perhaps the biggest perk of all is grandchildren. Grandparents get to enjoy the good parts of interacting with them and avoid the more challenging ones. The old folks can play with the young ‘uns, spoil them and then send them home.

They can also teach them. The stereotype is grandpa teaching fishing and sports and grandma demonstrating knitting and baking, but it’s not always like that. Plenty of aging people have the perspective to look beyond traditional gender roles.

Everyone works hard, but young and middle-aged people typically work harder than their elders. Older adults have done most of the heavy lifting and have earned the right to dial things back a notch and not work quite so hard. Better yet, they’re now in a better position where they can arrange their lives in a way that pleases them and not worry much about what anybody else thinks.