What it means to age has changed. Older folks these days are trying new things, getting involved in their communities, taking charge, striving for wellness, focusing on independence, and advocating for themselves and others. Like a fine wine, as you get older, you just can't help but get better. Here are 10 things that show the really fabulous side of growing older.
The word wisdom conjures images of a wise old owl, so we'll say older Americans are more "experienced". Like Bettie White's character, Rose, said on The Golden Girls, "My mother always used to say: 'The older you get, the better you get. Unless you're a banana.'" No one listens to children, teenagers, or young adults. They listen to older, wiser, more experienced folks. You've seen it all. You've made your mistakes and learned from them. Your brain is a font of knowledge from the years of information it has absorbed. And now you can use that knowledge to help others.
Things just seem much clearer once you're "over the hill". Your perspective broadens with age, giving you the clarity that eludes the young. It's empowering. You're more able to anticipate, face, and overcome life's challenges.
Starting around puberty, people become unsure of themselves. That self-assuredness of a toddler doesn't really return until old age. Your teenage years are spent in self-consciousness, your 20s are filled with tentativeness, your 30s self-doubt, fear of the future in your 40s, and then finally in your 50s, you start to know your worth. You've learned to trust your intuition. You've fallen and gotten back up countless times. You've found your voice and know how to use it. Sure, you may still doubt yourself sometimes, but the life lessons you've learned have made you more confident in making decisions.
You've already spent decades answering the questions that plague the young: "What do I want to be when I grow up?" "Will I ever get married?" "Should I have kids?" have all been answered. Maybe you did marry, raise a family, or have a career. All of that energy spent worrying about and striving to achieve your goals can now go to relaxing in proud contentment.
Spoil the kids and send them back home with their parents! The grandparent/grandchild relationship is mutually fulfilling. You get to see the wonder in their tiny little eyes that you once saw in your children. You get to watch them grow up, guiding them along the way. And you get to help your kids out with their kids. (PS, the newfound respect your children have for you is pretty nice, too.) Being active and involved in a loving relationship with your grandkids can even help you tap into the fountain of youth.
Starting at 50, you can get discounts on things just because you've made it through half a century. Although the official age that constitutes a "senior" varies from place to place, older folks can save money on dining, medication, entertainment, and transportation, and more--which is pretty nice when you're living on a fixed income! Find money-saving deals on SeniorDiscounts.com, 100+ Stores with Senior Discounts, and AARP. Guaranteed Minimum Income, Medicare, and Social Security don't hurt either!
You've spent your whole life working, parenting (perhaps), and (hopefully) saving money. Now you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Once you adjust to having free-time, you get to decide what to do with it. You can spend it with loved ones, pursue dreams and passions, learn a new language, visit places you've always wanted to go, be involved in the community, mentor younger people, the world is your oyster. Perhaps you're allergic to shellfish and would just rather go back to work, thank you very much. If so, you can find a part-time job, volunteer, or start a whole new career.
Getting old doesn't make you inherently grumpy. That grumpy old man was likely a grumpy young man. According to Psychology Today, "older adults report fewer negative emotions as well as more emotional stability and well-being than younger people." Maybe you've just gotten better at coping with negative emotions. Maybe you're just more comfortable in your own skin. Perhaps you've created a satisfying, relatively stress-free life for yourself. Whatever the reason, by now you've learned that happiness isn't a condition, it's a choice. And, you're well aware that you are in charge of your own happiness, not anyone else.
You've accumulated a lot of stuff over your lifetime, but you're no longer concerned about keeping up with the Joneses. In this consumerist society, you've found that less is more. By now, you've discovered that the most important things are immaterial. Things don't make you happy, people do.
First, your kids are fully dependent upon you, then they hate you, then (probably around the time they move out), they become your friend. They've got their own lives, and you don't have to boss them around anymore. Sure, you'll still worry about their ups and downs, but now you can take on the role of a supportive, experienced friend.