Ah, our golden years—retirement, early bird dinners, senior discounts, endless hours to enjoy our grandchildren, garden and golf game…for some, maybe, but more often than not these days, life in our 60s is very different than we imagined it would be. Compared to earlier generations:
- Our parents are living longer, often depending on us as caregivers.
- Our children are living at home longer and returning home to live more often (sometimes called the “boomerang generation”).
- Our retirement age is going up—to age 67 for full social security benefits in those born after 1960.
Common concerns for those of us in our 60s include declining physical and mental health, financial issues and dependence on others. But there’s much to savor about being in your 60s too—especially if you’ve made healthy lifestyle choices throughout your life. And even if you haven’t, start taking care of yourself now, and set your sights on good health in the years ahead.
But let’s be realistic, there’s good news out there! Our 60’s really can be “swinging,” and that’s according to a survey of about 1,500 adults, ages 45-69.
Among study participants in their 60s:
- A whopping 72 percent say they feel younger than their age.
- 79 percent say their journey so far is “about” what they expected or even “better” than they expected.
That’s not a surprise to folks who research what it’s like to get older.
The survey also found: For people in their 60s, old is age 72. Hmm, I’m more inclined to say that “old age” is not a specific number designated to determine whether an individual is old by a set standard. Look at the uniqueness of people in our community that are over 90!
There are many sources of happiness for people later in life, especially if they are healthy; and we are, for the most part, staying healthy longer because we learned about lifestyle and its effects on health.
Indeed, according to survey results, the 60-plus crowd is pleased with their health.
- 14 percent rate their health as “excellent”
- 61 percent rate their health as good
- only 4 percent rate their health as poor
- 22 percent rate it as fair
The biggest health concerns for people 60 and over:
- high blood pressure (47 percent)
- arthritis (29 percent)
- higher than acceptable cholesterol levels (43 percent)
Although these are health troubles known to affect an aging population, we are dealing with it better.
It seems many of us in this age group with these problems are still very active because we understand how lifestyle issues, such as eating right and exercise, can not only make us feel better, but also, sometimes, reduce the amount of medication we may need to help with a problem, or sometimes even eliminate the need for medication.
Despite achy knees, staying active is extremely important to our age group.
- Slightly more than 40 percent began exercising more in their 60s to keep looking and feeling good.
- Although 40 percent of folks ages 50-59 worried about their ability to perform mentally and physically, only 36 percent of those 60-69 waste time worrying about that potential decline.
Surprisingly, though we may not be more active than individuals in their 40s, we are actually more satisfied with our activity levels than younger groups.
Turning 60 is not that big of a deal, most people in the survey revealed. Nearly three-quarters actually “embrace” it. And yes, aging brings wisdom with 65 percent of participants saying they indeed feel “wise.”
So, what about the enjoyment of life in our 60’s?
More than half of respondents say they are happier, by far. Sure, those grey hairs and wrinkles may not be loved, but it’s clear we tend to worry about those cosmetic concerns less in their 60s than in our 50s. In fact, nearly 70 percent report greater self-confidence, compared to 68 percent of folks in their 50s and 56 percent in their 40s.
I don’t think many of us would want to go back to our younger years when you worry about everything because you think absolutely everything is important. Research has shown that older individuals, on average, not only seem to perceive life as having less stress and fewer hassles, but they also seem to respond to those problems better than younger individuals. Our generation by and large, has less disability, is less likely to go into a nursing home, and is much more likely to maintain cognition and a great sense of humor.
There’s nothing like a good laugh to keep you feeling and looking young. In fact, it has been researched that people in their 50s and 60s, laugh more than younger people. More than half laugh multiple times a day, and more than one-quarter laugh daily. Ha!
They may be laughing a lot because they feel pretty good about where they are in life and who they have become. The keys to happiness they’ve found are good advice for any age group.
Well, I definitely feel much better about journeying through my 60’s! What about you? Join the dialogue and let us know how you feel about your journey through the 60’s.
As always, I am…the swinging 60 Boomer Explorer.