Wine. Antiques. Trees. Plenty of things get better as time goes by. But people?
It’s true that some health and cognitive functions deteriorate as the years pass. But research also suggests there are positive aspects of getting older. Enjoy these 9 benefits of adding another candle to your birthday cake.
1. Happiness and well-being. For most people, their 20s and 30s are plagued with instability. Finding a job, starting a family and navigating financial issues may be at the center of your life. As you age, these stressors fade and you’re able to enjoy the life you’ve made for yourself.
2. Memory. Some types of memory actually improve as you get older. Semantic memory—your knowledge of the world and experiences, including recollection of facts and figures—resists aging. So does prospective memory—recollecting where you put your keys, when you need to pick up the dry cleaning, and so on. Older people tend to write things down and organize their lives in a way that benefits their memory.
3. Decision making. Among the perks of getting older, seniors tend to make better decisions, are more emotionally stable and become less impulsive than their younger peers, according to research. Older minds tend to better understand the weight of each decision because they know the value of their time, energy and happiness.
4. Stress (less). For many people, everyday life stressors are reduced as their children leave the house, they retire and they have more time to do the things they really want to do. Compared to younger adults, who are still experiencing the uncertainties of life, older adults are sure of themselves and their lives, which results in a reduced amount of stress.
5. Empathy. Research published in the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological and Social Sciences found that overall, late middle-aged adults demonstrate more empathy than other age groups.
6. Storytelling. Older adults tend to tell more interesting stories about the past. Instead of giving just the essentials, they’ll include interesting details that bring listeners into the story with them. They also can pull from a trove of experiences that younger people don’t have, simply because they’ve lived longer.
7. Self-confidence. As people age, they become more comfortable with themselves and stop wishing they had someone else’s life. At some point, we stop trying to make other people happy and start embracing ourselves for who we are—a real positive of aging!
8. Wisdom. Wisdom is something that only develops with age. And in some scenarios, it gives older people a decision-making advantage over younger adults, according to a study published in Psychological Science. Wisdom also helps people overcome negative effects of stressors, such as diseases, that are common in late life.
9. Positive mindset. Older people focus on the positive more than younger people do. In a study by Stanford University, people reported a more positive well-being and greater emotional stability over a 15-year period, no matter their age. Negative emotions like sadness, anger and fear became less pronounced over this period.