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3 things to celebrate about getting older

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Ready for a dose of positivity? Here’s how to find the brighter side of your golden years.

You meet your neighbor at the fence every so often. She’s about your age, and likes to complain about her creaky joints and blurry eyesight. 

But you’re the type that likes to find silver linings. Because there’s a lot to love about getting older. Like you, some folks already know this. Research shows that older adults tend to feel better about aging than younger adults.1, 2 
 
Plus, being older often opens up time for activities that can boost your health and well-being. That includes traveling, visiting grandkids and volunteering. 

Ready to feel good about some of the proven perks of aging? Read on. And if you need a little convincing, we’ve included tips for building a more positive relationship with your age.  

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Perk #1: You’re less likely to be depressed 

It’s true that 1 in 4 older adults experience mental health issues such as depression.2 But studies show that, on average, they’re less likely to be depressed than younger adults.2, 3 

One explanation is that living longer gives you time to build meaningful relationships. With age, you have more memories to reflect on and share with loved ones. Those family and social connections can bolster your mental and emotional health.1 

If you have children, there may even come a time when your age brings them closer. “Many of my patients have very close relationships with their children now that [their kids] are acting as caregivers,” says Nancy Swayze, MD. She’s a geriatrician with Optum in Worcester, Massachusetts. (Geriatricians are doctors who specialize in the health of older adults.)   

Perk #2: You have more wisdom 

Wisdom is the ability to make good decisions, answer important life questions and give advice about problems.4 Experts generally agree that people develop these skills through life experience.5  

Of course, growing old doesn’t guarantee you’ll collect significant life experience. But it does increase the odds.6  

For that reason, wisdom and creativity both tend to continue until the end of life, notes the American Psychological Association.2 What’s more, older adults often do better than younger adults on tests that draw on life experience and knowledge. 

As a bonus, you may also be able to communicate better. According to the National Institutes of Health, older adults tend to have bigger vocabularies and a deeper understanding of words.6   

As you age, you can take pride in knowing that your years have given you perspective that only comes with experience. 

Perk #3: You have more time to do what you want 

The Social Security Administration pins retirement age at around 66 or 67, depending on when you were born.7 

If you choose to retire then, you’ll probably have more free time on your hands. That’ll allow you to enjoy activities you might have been too busy to explore during your younger years. 

You can use that time to volunteer for a cause you care about. Or you could spend more time with friends or grandchildren. 

You can really get into a hobby you love, whether that’s playing a musical instrument, gardening or hiking. Have you always wished you could travel more? Now’s the time to plan that dream trip (or trips). While younger adults are often tied up with the grind of professional life and raising children, you have more time to do what you want.  

Need more ideas? The possibilities are nearly endless. You could:8 

  • Take a class that helps you learn a new skill (for example, painting, cooking, playing the piano or speaking a new language). 
  • Audit a class at a local college or university to learn something new (that means you sign up and pay for the class but don’t get a grade or credit for it). 
  • Join a book club to meet new people or spend time with old friends. 
  • Try classes at a gym, dance studio or yoga studio to stay active. 

All these activities can bring you joy. They also improve your physical and mental well-being because they engage your body and mind.9 

Looking for another way to improve your physical and mental health? Check out Optum Care’s network of primary care providers and specialists. Find a doctor

How to change your attitude about getting older

Not totally convinced about the upsides of aging? Here are a few tips that can help you adjust your mindset: 
 
Be open to new experiences. You’re never too old to have adventures and learn new things. And some of your most meaningful relationships may even come in your older years.  

“I’ve seen beautiful new friendships and romantic partnerships blossom after people moved out of their home and into senior housing or assisted living,” Dr. Swayze says. 

Choose to have a positive attitude. Life is full of ups and downs, but feeling good can be a mindset. Research shows that positive thinking can help you stay healthier as you age.10 That means you may improve your health by changing your outlook.  

If positive thinking doesn’t come naturally to you, try using positive self-talk. By telling yourself “I can do this” or “That setback makes me stronger,” you can train yourself to think differently.  

Try pretending that you’re talking to a loved one, but to direct the message at yourself, recommends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.11 Try it for a week and see what happens. 

Be thankful. There are always things to be grateful for. And by focusing on them, you may be able to shift your focus to all the things that are good in your life.  

Research suggests that people who focus on gratitude have greater life satisfaction. That can help with successful aging.12 

Remind yourself of one thing you’re grateful for each day. It can be as simple as the taste of a strawberry or the sensation of a soft pillowcase against your cheek. After a week or two, see if your frame of mind has shifted. 

And know that your Optum care team is always there to support you. They are committed to helping you stay healthy and happy as you get older. And they take the time to listen and understand. That’s the Optum way. 

Sources

  1. American Psychiatric Association. Thriving in old age. Published May 2, 2023. Accessed December 22, 2023. 
  2. American Psychological Association. A snapshot of today’s older adults and facts to help dispel myths about aging. Last updated September 2021. Accessed December 22, 2023. 
  3. National Institute on Aging. 10 myths about aging. Last reviewed June 23, 2020. Accessed December 22, 2023 
  4. American Psychological Association. Wisdom. Last updated April 19, 2018. Accessed December 22, 2023. 
  5. American Psychological Association. The development of wisdom during adulthood. Published 2019. Accessed December 22, 2023. 
  6. National Institute on Aging. How the aging brain affects thinking. Last reviewed June 27, 2023. Accessed December 22, 2023.  
  7. Social Security Administration. Normal retirement age. Accessed December 22, 2023. 
  8. National Institute on Aging. Participating in activities you enjoy as you age. Last reviewed March 28, 2022. Accessed December 22, 2023.  
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alzheimer’s disease and healthy aging: Are you engaged? Last reviewed May 8, 2017. Accessed December 22, 2023. 
  10. Scientific Reports. The effect of positive thinking on resilience and life satisfaction of older adults: a randomized controlled trial. Published March 1, 2023. Accessed December 22, 2023.  
  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Change negative thoughts to reach your goals. Last reviewed May 9, 2023. Accessed December 22, 2023.  
  12. Behavioral SciencesGratitude and life satisfaction among older adults in Saudi Arabia: Social support and enjoyment of life as mediators. Published June 22, 2023. Accessed December 22, 2023.

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