It’s a fact of life that as we age, muscles weaken, vision and hearing fade, we get wrinkled and stooped, and we can no longer run or even walk as quickly. But while the body seems to wither away, it appears that the spirit doesn’t undergo the same decline.
According to a large-scale survey, people’s degree of happiness varies throughout life and increases significantly among the elderly. The 2008 survey involved more than 340,000 Americans aged 18 to 85 and asked various questions about personal finances, health and other matters.
The findings have proven to be encouraging for older individuals. With the various factors considered, the researchers found a good level of life satisfaction among 18-year-old respondents. After that, things get worse as we get older, probably due to the ups and downs of adult life, with the lowest levels of well-being reported at age 50. However, as of that age, the trend appears to reverse and people keep getting happier as they get older. By the time they reach the age of 85, they are even more satisfied with themselves than the 18-year-old respondents.
The researchers asked about immediate well-being, which was defined as the respondents’ emotional state the day before the poll. They found that stress declines steadily as of age 22 and reaches its lowest point at age 85. Worry and anxiety stay fairly steady until age 50 and then sharply decrease. Anger decreases progressively as of the age of 18. Sadness, for its part, peaks at age 50, decreases until the age of 73, and then rises slightly again until the age of 85. Levels of enjoyment and happiness also decrease gradually until the age of 50, but then increase until the age of 75. While they decline somewhat past that age, they don’t reach the low point experienced at age 50.
While the study was not designed to identify the factors that contribute to our happiness, there is some hope for people in their fifties: Even though the current situation may seem dire, well-being seems to improve with age! So getting older does have its benefits!