Statistically baby boomers are not optimistic about aging. Our age group is the most likely to describe people 75 and older as dependent, sick, frail, or grumpy. We tend to look at aging as a negative and inevitable part of life.
Perhaps that’s not surprising since our generation has been saturated with information on how to retain that perfect body and youthful glow – especially women. If we’re not a size 2 with smooth skin and look like Julianne Moore or Christy Brinkley, we feel like failures.
However, getting old may not be as bad as people think it will be, giving us hope for the future. “Come with me, the best is yet to be,” poet Robert Browning wrote. Many older ones share that sentiment. Their responses in various studies shows that the expression “golden years” may be more than just a dream.
A Pew study found a sizable gap between the expectations that young and middle-aged adults have about old age and the actual experiences reported by older Americans themselves. In every instance, older adults report experiencing negative aspects of aging at lower levels – often far lower – than young adults report expect to encounter when they grow old. Interestingly, optimism increases with age, with 62% of those 75-plus saying they are optimistic about aging.
Perhaps we should have the same attitude. While boomers often turn to anti-aging spas and bio-chemical hormones in our ever-continuous search for the fountain of youth, apparently the older generation is more likely to rely on laughter, gratitude, and a positive outlook as the best medicine to slow down aging. In fact, rates of depression actually go down after age 60, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you take the right steps, old age can rank among the best years of your life.
Erik Erikson, the pioneering psychologist who researched life phases and coined the term “identity crisis” argued that aging is a process of development and progress, not decline. So why not embrace both the challenges and opportunities as we age with the idea of squeezing every drop of living possible in every moment? Keep trying to find the beauty of being or as Michelle Pfeiffer said when she turned 50: “You just take stock and count your blessings.” View each day as an opportunity to learn and grow. Embrace getting older and savor life.