Getting older has its perks. When many people think of aging, they often make negative associations with their senior years—aching bones, memory loss or ill health—but aging, it turns out, is actually pretty great.
- You’re just happier.
The older a person gets, the happier they are. A recent study published by the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry showed that people are least happy during their middle-aged years and earliest in life, but become markedly happier when they become seniors. Who said you can’t feel like a kid again?
- You are less stressed.
The same study showed that as people age, they become less stressed. People in their twenties and thirties reported having the most stress in their lives, whereas seniors reported as having the least. Relatedly, a study at Columbia University showed that an aging brain has fewer signals that indicate stress than that of a younger person. Less worrying means more time to truly enjoy all the good things in life.
- You’re better at resolving conflicts.
As people get older, the better equipped they are in dealing with potential conflicts and having those conflicts result in a positive outcome. A study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences showed that the average age of those identified to handle conflicts better was about 65 years old, whereas the lowest scorers were around 45 years old.
- You’ve got all that wisdom.
It is commonly accepted that people get wiser as they age. And with a lifetime of experiences to fall back on, it certainly makes sense. Wisdom is defined as having good sense or judgement, and while it may seem a bit folksy, the aforementioned study from the National Academy of Sciences also showed that seniors tend to have better cognitive abilities when it comes to their sense of judgement, especially in stressful and conflict-driven situations.
- You’ve got more time awake.
Seniors need less sleep than the rest of the population, leaving them with more time for hobbies and other things they love to do. While the appropriate amount of sleep is important for a healthy lifestyle, a study conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard Medical School concluded that the aging need one and a half hours less of sleep than remaining population. The study omitted those on medication or those who suffer from poor health, which historically have been cited as reasons why the aging need less sleep. Turns out needing less sleep and therefore having more time is just another perk of getting older.
- More time overall
As people age, they tend to have more free time on their hands. Much of what had occupied their time no longer has the same place in their everyday lives. Their children get older and are able to take care of themselves—not to mention retirement, which leaves behind the stress and deadlines of a job. With this time, seniors can pursue more personal lifelong dreams and interests. Seniors can take the time to travel and see the world, take a class to learn something they’ve always wanted to learn, or just spend time with their friends, family and loved ones. The gift of time is one of the greatest things to look forward when it comes to aging.
- Many big decisions have passed.
Though important choices are made every day, many of the big decisions people need to make in life have already been made by the time you are a senior. Many life choices are based on familiar needs such as education and career and how they factor into providing for your loved ones. As children age and become more independent, there is more time to focus oneself. Rather than choosing a job or lifestyle that best supports your career or family goals, seniors are free to spend their time doing positive things for themselves.
- Harness the political power of aging.
Currently, 46 million Americans, or 14%, of the population are seniors. The population of those over 65 continues to grow, and as it does, so does the power that comes with it. While seniors are ethnically and racially diverse as a group, they do share many similar interests and values. Seniors make up an important group at the ballot box, and with an overall population larger than California, seniors have the opportunity to flex their collective political muscle. With senior turnout almost always proportionately higher than most other groups, care and benefits for the aging are always highly discussed topics come election season.
- Think of all those senior discounts.
One of the best things about aging is the discounted prices on all sorts of great products, services and experiences. Almost all museums or cultural institutions offer discounts for those over 65, making it much easier and affordable to enjoy them. Interest groups such as the AARP offer discounts for all sorts of things, from household items to insurance or even travel.
Many other companies are geared exclusively to the aging and can be easily found online. Restaurant chains offer discounts directly to seniors, so it never hurts to ask a server for more information. Discounted pricing for the aging can allow seniors to do more of the things they enjoy for a fraction of the price.
- Finally, cherish a lifetime of great stories and perspective.
Perhaps the greatest thing about aging is the ability to share the stories and experiences gained over the course of a long and interesting life. With age comes perspective. What may have stressed a person when they were younger can become a life lesson to those in need or even become a funny story to share with loved ones. Perspective allows a person to better deal with the current situations in their life, while providing much-needed guidance to the younger generations—since the earliest recorded history, in fact, societies have looked to their wiser elders in times of need.
The ability to share with loved ones all the wonderful things that have happened in a person’s life is an amazing gift that comes with aging. Enjoy all the amazing things that come with aging—it is something to look forward to in the next stage of life.