Many people dread getting old. There is a persistent belief that we are doomed once we reach our senior years. Somehow we think that because we are older, our health would not be in its optimal state. And if we are not healthy, we cannot do things that we enjoy the most. Not to mention, getting older means getting inevitable closer to the end of our mortal life.
It’s such a scary thought that no wonder a lot of people fear old age.
While some of those fears are understandable, they are not all valid. For one, it is best to define what age can be considered as the old age that people fear.
Younger people tend to clump together all ages from 50 above as old. But for older people, it’s just about perspective. Fifty-year-olds may feel they are far off from being classified in the older category. Seventy-year-olds may still feel younger than octogenarians. Again, it’s all about perspective.
But why do age brackets matter when identifying the old people group? Wouldn’t it be all the same for them once they reach a certain age?
The short answer is no.
The difference is as stark as the difference among people in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
While twenty-something people are still navigating their way into most aspects of their lives, those in their 30s somehow already have a firmer grasp on them. Those in their 40s may already be in the higher echelons of their career.
It’s the same with older people.
Reaching 50 does not mean having the same outlook in life as reaching 60. As the saying goes, we never really stop growing. And if life is a journey, then the older we get, the happier we must be because we are nearing our destination.
And according to research, this is true.
Apparently, by the time people reach their 70s and 80s, they are more fulfilled in many aspects of their lives. It does not even matter if they are in a relationship or not. Being married for people in their 40s and 50s is a big thing; but for septuagenarians and older, it doesn’t make much of a difference. They can be happy, regardless of their marital state.
People who are at least 75 years old also have more improved wellbeing as compared to their younger counterparts. They are more positive in life because they already have the things that they want, already fulfilled the goals they want to accomplish.
According to survey, they are also the least depressed of all the age groups, even lesser than those who are 54 years old and younger.
Unfortunately, though, those who are 55 to 64 years old tend to be the most depressed of them all.
Being older can also mean having better financial stability.
Older Americans tend to be satisfied with their standard of living because they have enough money to do the things they want to do. They also have the time to do whatever they want. It’s a great combination, truly. They may have more restrictions on their health, but they are still quite fit to enjoy things.
Younger people fear growing old for a number of reasons.
One of those reasons is that we look old when we become old. It may be a vanity issue, but for some people, physical appearance can affect how others perceive us. And how others see us affects how they treat us. Our physical looks may be our ticket to a lot of opportunities, like career and romance. Looking old may entitle us to deferential treatment from our colleagues and peers, but that’s not exactly what we need in certain situations.
We also want to be loved and wanted, and that might be harder to get if we look old, or so some people fear.
Not necessarily, research says.
According to over 90,000 people surveyed, 66% of Americans aged 65 and older feel great about their physical appearance.
In comparison, only 61% of 18 to 34-year-olds “agree” or “strongly agree” on feeling good about their looks. Younger people might fear that getting older means losing their good looks, but older ones simply don’t agree. And so this fear might actually be unfounded.
Younger people tend to find even the most miniscule of things very stressful, for good reason, though. Some things, no matter how insignificant they appear to others, may affect one’s life in the most drastic ways.
In contrast, older people just brush off these so-called stressors because they are already stable in their life. In their life’s long journey, they have accumulated wisdom that allows them to shrug off things. They have learned to make smart decisions, which problems should they focus on and which ones they should ignore. And most of the time, these small stuff that come their way are just that: small stuff.
They don’t encounter peer pressure anymore.
Younger people, from children to even people in their 30s, are susceptible to be pressured in doing things. Not older ones, though. They already have confidence in themselves, have already found their purpose and have even fulfilled it so.
Modern times are even easier for older folks as well.
They have technology at their disposal, gadgets and equipment that help them live normally in their daily life. They have access to healthcare, or at least have resources to afford it. Society treats them better as well, compared to how it was in the olden days.
Again in contrast, modern life is worse for younger adults. It tends to be harder for them. This is also why people in their 70s are the least depressed and the happiest of age groups.
Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw had been quoted to say that youth is wasted on the young.
He may be right. Younger people may have health, but older people have a lot more. They have wisdom, stability, peace of mind, and, more importantly, happiness. Just imagine if older people had improving instead of failing health, they could conquer the world in the latter stages of their life’s journey.