A Brighter Outlook
Studies show that senior citizens are among the happiest groups of people, and they tend to be more satisfied than their middle-aged counterparts. A telephone survey conducted by Stony Brook University found that people over 50-years-old were happier overall, with anger steadily declining in their 20s through the 70s, and stress falling off entirely in the 50s. Research finds that people get more comfortable as their emotions bounce around less. These studies reveal that negative emotions become less pronounced with age, in comparison to our drama-filled younger years. As we age, we are better able to differentiate our needs from wants and focus on what is truly important to us. A University of Basel study of people aged 18 to 89 found that regardless of demographic and social status, the older one gets the higher self-esteem climbs. Qualities like self-control and altruism can contribute to happiness. While it is true that some seniors can be vulnerable to isolation, overall, they are shown to have superior social abilities and empathetic skills.
Part of seniors increased happiness is due to a broader ability to prioritize and reason. Brain scans reveal that older adults are more likely to use both hemispheres of their brains simultaneously. This neurological state is known as bi-lateralization, which can sharpen reasoning skills. For example, in a University of Illinois study, older air traffic controllers excelled at their mentally taxing and high-stress jobs, despite some losses in short-term memory and visual-spatial processing. Older controllers proved to be experts at navigating, managing multiple aircraft simultaneously, and avoiding collisions. The study says, “This could be due to better coping abilities. Older people tend to have internal mechanisms to deal better with hardship or negative circumstances.”
More Time for Family and Favorite Activities
One of the most obvious perks of retirement is spending time with family, friends, and other loved ones. Retirement is an excellent opportunity for many to pursue dreams and passions they might’ve put on hold. For instance, you can learn a new language, take time to travel, or finally write that novel. In addition to spending time with loved ones and pursuing new interests and old plans, retired seniors have more time to be civically and politically involved, and they do just that. For example, people over aged 65 vote at a higher rate than any other age group according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. They also volunteer at high numbers. According to this research, more than 21 million older adults, or one in every four seniors, contributed more than 3.3 billion hours of service in their communities. Based on an average estimate of the value of volunteer labor, senior citizens volunteer service contributes $77 billion annually to the economy.
Among these volunteer opportunities are several federal Senior Corps organizations that are geared specifically to seniors, such as Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions. These programs involve 360,000 senior Americans in volunteer community service activities annually. Seventy-one percent of volunteers to these programs reported less feeling of loneliness and a willingness to further engage in volunteer activities in their communities. There are also many local programs dedicated to senior citizen volunteer opportunities.
As small as they may seem, discounts offered to seniors can certainly add up quickly. The discounts offered to seniors can help save money in a time in life where income is usually fixed or limited. These discounts also provide a fantastic incentive to make the most out of retirement, as many of these discounts are for activities like dining, travel, entertainment, and transportation. These discounts also provide a valuable incentive for seniors to make the most of their retirement, for they are often for the exact types of services that help seniors stay engaged and active, such as dining, medication, entertainment, and transportation. Discounts are available for a wide variety of local venues, such as restaurants, museums, movies, as well as more significant ventures such as travel services like resorts, hotels, and airfare. For example, the U.S. National Park Service offers citizens over age 62 and up, a lifetime pass for more than 2,000 federal park sites for $10.
A Sense of Accomplishment
Older people often have a healthy sense of pride that comes from a lifetime of accomplishments. Ordinary achievements like raising a family, being happily married, serving the country, or retiring from a career after years of dedicated service can be a rewarding source of contentment in retirement.