They’re called the golden years for a reason. Getting older has its perks. For one, you’re good at using what you’ve learned. This is called crystalized intelligence, and it keeps getting better, even when you’re 65 or 70.
Mr. Nice Guy
Turns out you might not be a grumpy old man (or woman), after all. You’ll probably get more agreeable as you age, at least through your 60s. You’re also likely to be happier and less inclined to get angry. Scientists haven’t figured out exactly why this happens, but they do have some theories. Older people might control their emotions better, and focus more on how to make the most of life.
Play Well With Others
You’re more in tune with other people’s emotions in your 40s than at any other time in your life. That insight into how others think and feel can make living with your loved ones easier and help you get along better with your coworkers, too.
Older women may have sex less often than when they were younger, but apparently they make it count. In a study of women 40 and over, researchers found that sexual satisfaction improved with age. Women over 80 were more likely than those between 55 and 79 to say they were satisfied during sex.
A Taste for Life
As you age, medications, illness (colds, flu, gum diseases, etc.) and allergies all can change your sense of smell and taste. And that can affect your diet and health. If you find things need to be spiced up, try some olive oil, herbs like rosemary and thyme, garlic, onion, peppers, or mustard. Just stay away from the salt.
What's That Doing There?
Around the time the hair on your head starts to disappear, it can show up in the strangest places. This can mean large hairs in older guys' noses and ears. Older women may notice small hairs on their chins. This is all caused by changes in our hormones.
Rise And Shine
There’s a good chance you’ll become the morning person you’ve always wanted to be -- in your 60s. Our sleeping patterns can shift as we age, so we get sleepier earlier and wake up earlier. That seems to work out well. One study showed that even though folks over 65 tend to wake up during the night, most said they regularly get a good night’s sleep.
Once you hit your 70s, those migraines you may have had much of your life may go away. Only 10% of women and 5% of men over 70 still report migraines. Even better news: If you do have a migraine, it may not actually come with the headache. As people age, some may experience migraines as visual or sensory disturbances without pain.
Don't Quit Your Day Job
Early retirement might not be the best thing for your health -- unless you have a fun second career. A study called the Longevity Project found that people who work hard at a job they enjoy live the longest. That, along with good friends and a good marriage, could be the key to sticking around a while.
Fear Is Not Your Friend
You may worry more about breaking bones as you age. But you’re more likely to take a tumble if you’re scared of falling. One study found that about a third of adults over 65 have that fear. And it’s understandable, because falls are the leading cause of injuries for older people.
Self-esteem soars as you age, studies show, and increases with wealth, education, good health, and employment. But it takes a dip after 60. That may be because people begin to have health issues and start searching for a new sense of purpose following retirement. With increasing life spans, healthier lifestyles, and working to an older age, we may see that change.
Baby boomers and older adults report less stress than their younger counterparts, according to the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America report. That doesn’t mean, it goes away. Health and money problems still crop up. But, the APA says, 9 of 10 older adults say they’re doing enough to manage it.
Weight of the World
The longer you’re alive, the more gravity brings you down. The spaces between the bones in your spine -- called vertebrae -- get closer together. That can make you about an inch shorter as you get older.
Strength in Numbers
The graying of America may be a good thing for you. Those 60 and over tend to cast ballots more than any other age group. And they’re the fastest-growing block of voters in the U.S. these days. That means more voting power on topics that matter as you age such as Medicare, Social Security, and health care
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American Journal of Medicine: “Sexual Activity and Satisfaction in Healthy Community-dwelling Older Women.”
American Psychological Association: “Personality changes for the better with age,” “The real secrets to a longer life.”
Harvard Gazette: “Smarter by the minute, sort of.”
Johns Hopkins Medical Library: “Introduction to Menopause.”
KidsHealth.org: “Why Do People Shrink?”
National Sleep Foundation: “Insomnia & Older Adults.”
Oregon Technology in Education Council: “Theories of Intelligence.”
Scientific American: “How do hairs like those on the chest or in the nose know to grow when you trim them?”
U.S. National Library of Medicine: “Physiological changes in scalp, facial and body hair after menopause: a cross-sectional population-based study of subjective changes.”