Many people are quick to think of growing older in a negative light. Although there certainly are some side effects of aging that one may wish to avoid, people may find that the benefits of growing older outweigh the negatives.
Seniors are a rapidly growing segment of the population. In the United States, the Administration on Aging states that the older population — persons 65 years or older — numbered 46.2 million in 2014 (the latest year for which data is available). Statistics Canada reports that, in July 2015, estimates indicated that there were more persons aged 65 years and older in Canada than children aged 0 to 14 years for the first time in the country’s history. Nearly one in six Canadians (16.1%) was at least 65 years old.
With so many people living longer, it’s time to celebrate the perks of getting older rather than the drawbacks. Here are some great benefits to growing old.
• Higher self-esteem: The insecurities of youth give way as one ages, and older people have less negativity and higher self-esteem. A University of Basel study of people ranging in ages from 18 to 89 found that regardless of demographic and social status, the older one gets the higher self-esteem climbs. Qualities like self-control and altruism can contribute to happiness.
• Financial perks: Seniors are entitled to discounts on meals, museum entry fees, movies, and other entertainment if they’re willing to disclose their ages. Discounts are available through an array of venues if one speaks up. Seniors also can enjoy travel perks, with slashed prices on resorts, plane tickets and more. The U.S. National Park Service offers citizens age 62 and older lifetime passes to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites for just $10 in person ($20 online or via mail).
• Reasoning and problem-solving skills: Brain scans reveal that older adults are more likely to use both hemispheres of their brans simultaneously — something called bilateralization. This can sharpen reasoning skills. For example, in a University of Illinois study, older air traffic controllers excelled at their cognitively taxing jobs, despite some losses in short-term memory and visual spatial processing. Older controllers proved to be experts at navigating, juggling multiple aircrafts simultaneously and avoiding collisions.
• Less stress: As people grow older, they are able to differentiate their needs from wants and focus on more important goals. This can alleviate worry over things that are beyond one’s control. Seniors may realize how little the opinions of others truly mean in the larger picture, thereby feeling less stress about what others think of them.
Growing older may involve gray hair or wrinkling skin, but there are many positive things associated with aging.