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SENIOR ADVOCATE

By Liza Horvath

 

We get better with age

 

If you were told that life gets better with age, you might laugh and say, “Sure, if you are wine or cheese!” However, studies show that for many of us, life does get better with age.

 

A growing body of scientific research shows that certain aspects of our emotional wellbeing improve over time – older adults have fewer mood swings, friendships tend to be more intimate and honest, and many women gain a higher level of comfort with their body image. Some seniors come to the realization that their days are truly numbered (either by time or an unfavorable health diagnosis) and finally pursue a long delayed trip, hobby or other adventure.  In the same vein, recognizing that our days here are limited helps older adults prioritize commitments and many find ways to spend extra quality time with loved ones. Recognizing that life is impermanent gives us perspective and many of the small annoyances seem significantly less important.  

 

Academic studies show that certain types of intelligence continue to develop throughout life and, by the mere fact of spending decades in one field of work or study, many seniors become leading experts in their profession. Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers,” states that “exceptional expertise requires at least 10,000 hours of practice,” and Gladwell supports this position by showing correlations between the time hockey players spent practicing and their winning games, the hours spend by the Beatles playing and their musical success and the significant time Bill Gates spent writing code in his youth that lead to his eventual billionaire status. Despite the fact that Gladwell’s book has had its share of detractors, most would agree that when a person loves his chosen field of work, continues to study and practices daily for decades, he usually becomes very good at what he does.

 

Gaining recognition for work is satisfying both emotionally and, at least usually, on a monetarily level, as well. Getting gratification from our contribution in terms of work and having our financial needs met or exceeded naturally leads to feelings of happiness. Some people, however, do not age as well as others. Along with a healthy lifestyle, continued learning, a supportive family or social circle, attitude and expectation also play a key role in successful aging. According to a 38-yearlong study completed in 2012 by the Yale School of Public Health and the National Institute on Aging, older adults who bought in to the negative stereotypes about aging did not perform as well over the long term cognitively as those with more positive expectation of their later lives.

 

The bottom line is that studies show that older adults make wiser decisions, typically report healthier marital relationships, experience less conflict with children and siblings, and continue to demonstrate creativity late into life. If you are having trouble believing that you could be (or already are) a “Silver Super Star,” it is not too late to change. Olga Kotelko was 77 years old when she took up running and, by age 94, held world records and had won so many gold medals that she began to give them away as gifts. So senior, break out your old “think positive” books and tapes, adjust your attitude and get going. You are a key player in this world, still.  

Liza Horvath has over 30 years experience in the estate planning and trust fields and is the president of Monterey Trust Management, a financial and trust management company. This is not intended to be legal or tax advice. If you have a questions call (831)646-5262 or email liza@montereytrust.com

 


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