Friday, April 01, 2011
Can Things Really Get Better as we Grow Older?
It also chimes in with the article in the ST last Sunday on biologist Professor Lewis Wolpert's book claiming that that older people tend to be happier than younger ones. This is counter intuitive to someone like me who looks back on earlier years with nostalgic affection and wishes he could play cricket and table tennis as I once did and sprint around a playing field like a young puppy. But such memories are misleading it would seem. A US National Academy of Sciences' survey of 341,000 people begs to differ. This survey shows that while teenagers and early twenty types are reasonably happy, their level of happiness plunges until early middle age.
However, from mid to late forties onwards happiness levels begin to improve and don't stop improving until the remarkable age of 85. Says Wolpert:
'From their mid forties onwards, people tend to become ever more cheerful and optimistic, perhaps reaching a maximum in their late seventies or eighties.'
Mind you, there are important conditions required. Older people have to be healthy, financially comfortable and have good relationships. Christine Janes clearly meets all three requirements but the down side is that quite a lot of others in our tottering financial conditions might not. Yet having just had another birthday, and, as one tends to when over 40, contemplated my mortality, I find it delightfully reassuring that, given the maintenance of health and finance things can only get better. Though, Professor John Bond of Newcastle University surely expresses the essential truth of growing old:
'In the34 end it's your friends and family that count most.'
Well worth a listen (as Night Waves often is) and available on the iPlayer until Monday...
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