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How Did I Get to be 83?

By Edited Sep 18, 2015 3 7

Having reached the age of 83, I have learned first-hand about the process of aging.  Looking back on my life, I realize that the time went swiftly, and I somehow was given the means to soldier on whereas companions of the same age have long since passed away.

I can name several factors that have contributed to my long life, such as good genes, education, a caring family, proper nutrition, good sleeping habits, financial security, mental and spiritual stimulation, intellectual curiosity, access to medical care, and lack of stress.  On the other hand, I have known people with comparable characteristics who did not make it.

Seniors Exercising
                              

                                                                  Seniors Exercising

This set of circumstances has led me on a quest to research the aging process for my own enlightenment as well as to make a contribution to the knowledge of others.  I have learned a great deal.

The fastest-growing segment of the total population of our country consists of those 80 and over. Their growth rate is twice that of those 65 to79 and almost four times that for the total population.  In the United States, the group over 80 will more than triple from 5.7 million in 2010 to over 19 million by 2050.

When I was a child, anyone over 50 years old behaved as an aged person, sitting in a rocking chair, viewing the world as it passed by.  Today, persons as old as eighty exercise twice as much as previous generations.  They bike, hike, swim, sail, and ski, play softball and basketball. They move to the mountains, beaches, islands, and college towns where the physical and intellectual action is.  They defy the thinking that they are ready for the compost heap.  This dramatic increase in senior enjoyment and life expectancy is not accidental.  It is the direct result of modern methods of infectious disease knowledge control, public health services, and new medical and surgical techniques.

                       

Walking Exercise
                          

                                                                        Walking Exercise

Senior citizens readily report the satisfactions they experience in their post-retirement years up through their nineties.  They love that they have more time to spend with their family, they develop new hobbies, they enjoy not having to go to work each day.  They have more time to travel and to do volunteer work.  All of these factors contribute to a happiness that escaped them when they were young and struggling.

A close look at today’s physically and intellectually active younger generation indicates that tomorrow’s elderly citizens will be better educated, healthier, more culturally literate and more astute consumers.  They will continue to lead active lifestyles with the perks of flexible working hours, continuing education, travel opportunities, and prospects for companionship.

A recent survey showed that half of all elderly citizens expect to work at least part-time once they retire. And they want to have offices in their homes with high speed internet connections for their computers, which 40 percent of them already own.

Four main factors contribute to making people happy.  They can be classified under gender, personality, external circumstances and age.

Gender

Most people are aware that women live longer than men.  However, many do not realize that studies have confirmed that women have been found to be slightly happier than men.

Personality traits

Neurotic people - those who are prone to guilt, anger and anxiety - tend to be unhappy.  Extroverted people tend to be happier people.  Those who like working in teams and who love parties tend to be happier than those who work alone in closed offices in the daytime and stay home alone in the evenings.

                         

Senior Get-Together
                                                             

                                                                   Senior Get-Togethers                                                           

Circumstance:  Relationships, education, income and health, shape the way we feel. Being married may contribute to one’s happiness, while being unemployed is a bit of a downer.  In America, being black used to be associated with lower levels of happiness.  Surprisingly, the most recent research suggests that being black or Hispanic today is associated with greater happiness. People with children in the home are less happy than those without children.  Educated people are happier unless income is factored in; if a less educated person has a high income, that effect disappears.  Happiness grows to a greater extent after middle age.  Older people are better at controlling their emotions, better at accepting misfortune, and less prone to anger.  Happiness also makes people healthier, which makes a lot of sense.  Religion plays a far bigger part in the lives of older adults than younger adults.

Age

Even though older people gradually lose their vitality, mental sharpness and looks, they gain what they have spent their lives seeking:  happiness.  Contrary to what we’ve all heard, you might actually sleep better the older you get.  Older people usually feel a lot younger than they really are.  Negative emotions become less pronounced than in our younger years.  Certain parts of the brain actually improve with age. The older you get the better able you are to problem solve and understand arguments.  Judgment also improves with age, as well as the ability to make financial decisions.

I can certainly attest to the accuracy of these findings.  If you manage to keep your mental faculties, a long life will bring intense happiness and satisfaction. 

 [1]

[2]

Psalms of an 83-Year-Old Woman
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Comments

Nov 4, 2014 2:35am
mkjamal
Very interesting , my mum is 75 a d very active and reasonably healthy thank god, my grandmother was active well into her eighties
So why do I feel old at 46???
definitely something to do with my lifestyle, it's very restricted I have few friends, little physical activity, no chance to enjoy. Nature,on the plus side I eat healthily and keep myself mentally active, but I'm sure feeling bored and depressed affects ageing greatly
Nov 4, 2014 9:04am
kellapat
I believe you are right in that lifestyle inhibits you. New hobbies, new friends, a change-up in routine, an effort to think positively, always help in making the aging process more pleasant.
Dec 29, 2014 10:29pm
WriterJoanne
You have a very positive outlook on life. This was very enjoyable to read. Lifestyle and attitude make a big difference.

Happy New Year!
Jan 2, 2016 3:18pm
denrus2004
Your writing is awesome. I recently signed up and would love to get some help to start writing. Would appreciate your help. Thanks.
Jan 2, 2016 3:47pm
kellapat
Just start in there and write. Practice makes perfect. If you are a reader, writing comes more easily because you are familiar with spelling, grammar, punctuation, and vocabulary. Write consistently; you will only get better. Good luck!
May 21, 2016 11:52pm
aguy
My grandma told me (when she was 96 and quite vibrant) that the secret to a long healthy life was lots of good red meat and a bacon and egg sandwich for breakfast everyday. I know most people would disagree with that, but it is hard to dispute that it appeared to work for her. :)

This was fun to read.
May 22, 2016 12:10am
kellapat
I have had oatmeal with cinnamon for breakfast for at least the past 20 years. I think it is one factor which accounts for health at an older age.
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Bibliography

  1. "Age and Happiness." The Economist. 29/10/2014. 29/10/2014 <Web >
  2. "Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends." Growing Old in America: Expectations vs. Reality. 29/10/2014. 29/10/2014 <Web >

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