We live in a society that doesn’t focus on the feel-good benefits of aging. In fact, the discourse around aging can often make the process seem bleak and downright scary. So, while love is still in the air, let’s focus on some of the true benefits that can only come with age.
First up: our confidence. As we get older, we seem to care less about what others think and become more self-assured. A 2018 study published by the American Psychological Association reveals that self-esteem peaks, not earlier in life as you might expect, but at the approximate age of 60. That confidence remains relatively constant until 70 and declines only slightly around the age of 90.
And it’s not just confidence that grows with age, it’s our happiness. According to a 2010 Gallup poll, worry levels drop sharply after 50, while enjoyment and happiness rise steadily for approximately 25 years.
A 2016 study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, backs those findings. While people in their 20s and 30s reported having the highest levels of depression, anxiety and stress, older people, were found to be the happiest.
There’s another area of life that peaks later and that’s our social reasoning skills. As in, the way we navigate relationships and friendships. A Purdue University study found that as we approach the latter years of our lives, our relationships improve considerably – with study subjects reporting better marriages, less conflict and more supportive friendships.
And then there are the perks – in just about every facet of life, from finance to health, transportation to travel. Here in Canada, we have government programs designed to help older Canadians stay financially independent, like Old Age Security (OAS), Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and Spouse’s Allowance. Depending on your province or territory, you may have special programs like property tax deferment, prescription drug subsidies, fuel or utility subsidies.
If you’re a traveler, there are perks there, too. Those 60 and older are often eligible for discounted rail passes, airfares from select carriers and discounts on stays at some of the world’s largest hotel chains and cruise lines.
There’s even relief when it comes to banking. For example, National Bank of Canada offers lower monthly fees for chequing accounts and Royal Bank offers free ATM transactions with its RBC Sixty Plus Account. Don’t forget about discounted premiums on auto insurance and special rates at restaurants, movie theatres and big-name retailers. Often all you need to do is ask.
Perhaps just as important as realizing the benefits of age, is knowing why you should be aware of them. It turns out our attitudes contribute greatly to our longevity. A joint Yale and Harvard University study in 2001 found that participants who held a more positive attitude about their own aging lived, on average, 7.5 years longer. So, feeling happy in the moment and younger than your years is a perk in itself.
On the heels of Valentine’s Day, let’s think about how we can love ourselves as we evolve. Because as we age, wisdom helps us get better at many things – like knowing the value of time, the importance of forgiveness and understanding what matters most in life. And, if we take the time to look, we may also be rewarded for how far we’ve come.