Older and wiser?
Robert Browning once said, "Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be," and new research from Revera Inc, a Canadian leader in seniors' accommodation, care and services, reveals Canadian seniors agree. According to the Revera Report on Happiness - released just prior to the first annual United Nations International Day of Happiness - the older you are, the happier you are. Canadian seniors (66-plus years of age) are more likely than any other generation to report that 'aging means you are happier;' in fact, they are twice as likely as Gen X and Baby Boomers to make the statement.
The Revera Report on Happiness, developed in partnership with the International Federation on Ageing, reveals the majority of seniors (65 percent) are happy with their life, and over half (57 percent) are optimistic about aging. Interestingly, optimism further increases as you get older, with 62 per cent of those 75-plus saying they are optimistic about aging. Those 75-plus are also the most likely to say age is just a number (70 percent) and you never stop living life to the fullest (42 percent).
Canadians are not alone; a Gallup poll of more than 340,000 people in the US, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed similar results, suggesting that Americans also get happier as they get older.
"These findings help dispel some of the common stereotypes of aging that perpetuate ageist attitudes," says Dr. Amy D'Aprix, gerontologist and expert on aging. "In fact, older Canadians are very positive about aging, and this sends an important message to younger generations that getting older is not a negative thing."
And it seems they need to hear this message, specifically Gen Y and Gen X, most of whom report they are not happy with their life right now, nor do they express optimism towards aging. In fact, only one in four Gen Y and Gen Xers report being optimistic about aging. They are also the most likely generation to describe people 75 and older as dependent, sick, frail or grumpy.
This may be because overall, 89 per cent of Canadians associate aging with something negative, like not being able to get around easily, losing independence, or being alone.
According to the Revera Report on Happiness, 42 percent of Canadian seniors 75-plus say the best is yet to come. The top three things they look forward to as they age include: being comfortable in their own skin (68 percent); being surrounded by friends and family (62 per cent); and having time to do things that are important to them (61 percent).
"The United Nations International Day of Happiness is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on this group of role models that is too often overlooked," says Jeff Lozon, President and CEO at Revera Inc. "There are many ways people live their lives to the fullest well into their later years, and we see this every day with the people we serve across the country."
In 2012, Revera in partnership with the International Federation on Ageing, launched AGE IS MORE, which challenges negative attitudes and stereotypes faced by seniors, promotes an age inclusive society and celebrates the ageless spirit of older people. Canadians are encouraged to visit AgeisMore.com to learn more about ageism and its impact, and get tips on how to be more age inclusive. On AgeisMore.com, Canadians are also encouraged to share their personal stories of seniors who inspire them.
"Age truly is just a number," says Dr. Amy D'Aprix. "We need to challenge ageist stereotypes, view aging with optimism and treat older adults as vibrant and valued contributors to society."