Friday, January 9, 2015

Does old age have a bad rap?

Is age really a ticking time bomb? Or is it only a number? If it's only a number, when does it begin? That depends on your age today. A Pew Research survey finds that folks under 30 today believe old age starts at 60. Folks over 65 disagree. They say old age begins at 74. Don't ask what folks older than 74 think. Most of them are too busy enjoying life to care.

Many folks between age 18 and 64 agree with Mae West, who said "old age ain't for sissies." They expect no favors from Father Time, but maybe they're wrong. Fifty-seven percent of them expect memory loss when they're older, but only 25% of seniors become forgetful. Forty-five percent of young folks expect to loose their driver's license when they're old, but only 14% actually do. Forty-two percent of young folks expect old age to bring serious illness, but three out of four seniors remain healthy.

So what are the sunset years really like? A telephone survey of old geezers (65 and older) found 65% enjoy more time for hobbies; 86% have more time to share with family; 52% do more volunteer work and traveling, and 64% have more financial security than when they were younger. Best of all, almost 60% report less stress, and unlike Rodney Dangerfield, 59% believe they get more respect with white hair.

Okay, old age may have some benefits, but we all get less creative in our dotage, don't we? Not necessarily. Consider Mark Twain, Paul Cezanne, Frank Lloyd Wright, Albert Einstein and Robert Frost. These scholars relied on wisdom, which increases with age. And what about laborers on the factory floor? Aren't old timers less productive? In jobs that require experience, some studies show older adults have an advantage. They make fewer mistakes and better decisions.

So maybe it's true. Age is nothing more than mind over matter. If you don't mind, then age doesn't matter.

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