As George Bernard Shaw noted, “Youth is wasted on the young”. Ah, to have all the benefits of age in a 25-year-old body…
But there is plenty to acknowledge and be thankful for as we get older; aging has very real and concrete advantages other than being able to claim AARP discounts at your favorite restaurant.
Consider the following.
1. Adults Past Middle Age Need Less Sleep.
That means there are more waking hours to do all the stuff you didn’t have time for when you were younger. Time to read, walk, go to a museum, travel, paint, play music, do puzzles, and spend time with family and friends.
While needing less, many older people have trouble falling or staying asleep—this is somewhat different and isn’t healthy. While problems with sleep can be attributed to a variety of factors, those with no sleep complaints sleep less than younger people.
2. Attitude is Everything.
Healthy people over the age of 60 have a more positive outlook on life than people in their 20s. It’s no wonder they are still healthy and active; those who are optimistic have a general tendency toward these.
One study that investigated the correlation of negative/positive emotional responses to the age of the subjects concluded:
“Aging did not impact the connectivity among regions engaged during the encoding of negative information, but age differences did arise during the encoding of positive information. Most notably, in older adults, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and amygdala strongly influenced hippocampal activity during the encoding of positive information.”
In other words, older people are more likely to associate and remember positive memories and attitudes.
3. Healthy Adults Maintain a Healthy Libido.
While activity may slow, it doesn’t stop. Research reported in the New England Journal of Medicine examined sexual activity in people between 57 and 85 years of age.
Authors found that while overall health is a prominent factor in older people maintaining regular sexual activity, those in good health were going strong well into their 80s.
4. From Generation to Generation
Being an active part in grandchildren’s lives is wonderful for all three generations. Grandparents can enjoy the children without the primary responsibility; parents have built-in loving, willing, and free baby-sitters; and children benefit most of all with the connection that this special relationship can form.
A study performed at Johns Hopkins University found that children whose regular daily caregiver is a grandparent are 50 percent less likely to get hurt while in her/his care than in another setting.
5. Better Decisions
There is a big difference between knowledge and wisdom; one can be learned but the other must be earned. One series of tests requiring concrete decision-making by groups of people segregated by age reflected that those in the older group scored better, presumably because there is a much wealthier basis for those decisions from experience and accumulated knowledge. Perspective and problem-solving skills are more important than academics.
My father-in-law used to say, “getting old sucks”. He passed away at 69 from congestive heart failure. Had his attitude been different, his health would have been better; his diet more conducive to feeling good; his activities more fun; his outlook on life and living more positive; and his relationships with his children and grandchildren more rewarding.
Not to pick on him—he was a good man—but his example is illustrative of how important it is to see the good in the journey of life on which we all embark. It’s not all great but there is much more to celebrate than to mourn.
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