Getting older, getting better!!
Although many people dread the thought of "getting old," attitudes about aging have changed because many older Americans have discovered that getting older is not all that bad.
Susan Scarf Merrell wrote in American Demographics: "The wondrous news is that getting old is a generally positive thing. We donít just accumulate years, we also gain wisdom which enables us to make decisions with less of the fussing and wheel-spinning that marked our teens and twenties."
There are many positive benefits that older people have realized, according to Merrell. Here are some of the benefits:
They have better attention spans and are more able to focus.
- Older people have learned a lot about themselves and the world.
Most older people are reasonably happy with their lives.They have an overall sense of well-being. After age 45, the rates of depression tend to decline for both men and women.
Older people have learned to adapt.They seem to be more resilient and flexible. Studies support the fact that they tend to have fewer negative thoughts.
Older people seem to have figured out what makes them happy.They have learned to shift priorities and simplify their lives. Relationships with the people they love become more important than how they look.
Sex roles start to blur.Men reportedly become more helpful and learn to talk about their feelings. On the other hand, women tend to become more assertive and become active in meeting their own needs. This leads to greater contentment and openness in communicating with each other.
All this does not lead to a claim that getting older is all fun and games. Just ask someone dealing with a serious illness or raising a grandchild.
We know that two aspects of aging are slowing down and having a less-efficient memory, but one of the worst aspects of aging seems to be some of the intolerant attitudes of younger people. However, as Merrell also points out, it is very difficult to generalize about older people because they are as heterogeneous as any other group of people.
Maudie Kelly, MS
Human Development Specialist