A recent study by Ipsos Mori has revealed that just a third of people worldwide feel old age is something to feel happy about and look forward to.
Images of frail, lonely and isolated old people add to the negativity around aging. The main concerns are money and failing health.
Is it really all doom and gloom, though? Or, can we go into our later years feeling old age is something to be happy about?
What is Old Age, Anyway?
In just over thirty years’ time, there will be two billion people on this planet, over the age of sixty.
But, being old is all a matter of where you live. In Spain, for example, they don’t consider themselves as old until they’re over seventy.
Go to Saudi Arabia though, and you’ll be old by the time you reach your mid-fifties.
Then, it also depends on the age you are now. Young people in their teens and twenties tend to think old age starts at around sixty.
However, if you’re in your sixties now, you’ll probably think of old age as being nearer eighty.
Is it all a question of mindset, then?
To some extent, mindset plays a vital part in how we age. People with a positive outlook about aging, often live longer.
Maintaining that zest for life is harder said than done, though, when there are so many negative images of old age.
There are also plenty of real concerns that just can’t be ignored. These days, many people over fifty are increasingly worried about money and health issues.
According to the Ipsos Mori report, although we are living longer, more of us are managing multiple health issues.
Struggling with mobility problems as early as mid-life, onwards, is fairly common. This could mean issues with simple day-to-day activities such as washing and dressing. Less wealthy people are most at risk.
Money issues are also a concern with the over-fifties leaving work earlier than they intended, due to ill health. There is then a too much of a gap between leaving work and receiving income from a pension.
What Can Be Done to Feel Happy About Old Age?
Staying healthy long enough to enjoy our later years is what we’d all like to achieve. And, because we are all living longer, it makes sense to look after our bodies so we can feel those extra years have been worth it.
Fortunately, we do have some control over our own well-being. Healthy eating and exercise is good advice no matter what age you are, but it’s particularly important the older you get.
Many of the health issues the over-fifties face today are in fact, preventable. Smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet and excessive alcohol consumption, can all be turned around.
Governments and employers have their part to play by supporting older people. The study suggests changes to help older people stay in work longer, if they wish, in spite of health issues.
It’s also suggested that society as a whole can help change the stereotypical image of old age. Considering there have been increases globally of workers over fifty, it makes sense.
Things are beginning to change but there is still a long way to go. It may be seen as an achievement that we are living longer, but what use are those extra years if they represent hardship and struggle.
Society, governments, employers and indeed, older people themselves, can all make a difference to help make old age something to be truly happy about.