We get happier with age, study says
The findings make sense on an intuitive level; older folk seem to know and accept themselves moreso than do idealistic youth.
I remember some of the teachers in my high school would always tell us to get the most of the best years of our lives. In retrospect, what were they talking about?
CHICAGO (AP) -- It turns out the golden years really are golden. Eye-opening new research finds the happiest Americans are the oldest, and older adults are more socially active than the stereotype of the lonely senior suggests. The two go hand-in-hand: Being social can help keep away the blues.
"The good news is that with age comes happiness," said study author Yang Yang, a University of Chicago sociologist. "Life gets better in one's perception as one ages."
A certain amount of distress in old age is inevitable, including aches and pains and the deaths of loved ones and friends. But older people generally have learned to be more content with what they have than younger adults, Yang said.
This is partly because older people have learned to lower their expectations and accept their achievements, said Duke University aging expert Linda George. An older person may realize "it's fine that I was a schoolteacher and not a Nobel prize winner."
Yang's findings are based on periodic face-to-face interviews with a nationally representative sample of Americans from 1972 to 2004. About 28,000 people ages 18 to 88 took part.
There were ups and downs in overall happiness levels during the study, generally corresponding with good and bad economic times. But at every stage, older Americans were the happiest.