Aging is a fact. It’s a force of nature. It doesn’t matter what way you put it, the plain fact of the matter is sooner or later you’re going to get old. However, the process of aging itself is still very much so a mystery.
With that said, here are a few of the less well-known aspects of reaching your golden years.
1. Bone-a fide Facts
As you age, your bones begin to wear out due to decades of heavy usage. When young, your bones go through a process of regeneration — this slows over time, weakening the bones and making them more susceptible to injury.
This is a concern that comes with age, and it can lead to weaker bones and even the need for classic things like dentures.
2. Elders Own the Voting Booth
As you age, there are some pretty sweet natural side effects that take place. Case in point: once you hit that 65-year mark, you become part of one of the most powerful voting blocks in the country — as far as age is concerned, at least.
In 2018 a whopping 66.1% of citizens 65 and older cast their votes. For some perspective, that was nearly double the 18-29 year old demographic.
3. Pain Management is Common
As your body ages, it’s not uncommon to deal with a variety of different ailments. While many of these can be severe, often a simple side effect of getting older is the fact that you deal with more aches and pains.
This leads to pain management by a variety of medicinal remedies, such as ibuprofen, as well as natural solutions like CBD products.
4. It Opens Up New Horizons
Aging is often stigmatized as a final act of life. After a “job well done,” an aging person is expected to scamper off into an irrelevant retirement. Except, that’s not exactly the way it has to go. For many, the aging process allows them to find new freedom from the relentlessness of younger adult life.
J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t publish The Fellowship of the Ring until he was 62 years old. Canadian Ed Whitlock ran a marathon in under three hours at the ripe old age of 69. At 75 years old, Barbara Hillary became the first African American woman to reach the North Pole — and after surviving a bout with cancer, no less.
5. The Aging Process is Getting Longer
According to the World Health Organization, the global life expectancy in 2016 was 72 years — that reflected a five-year increase in the previous sixteen years.
While life expectancy is heavily influenced by things like demographics, where you live, and the lifestyle you lead, there’s no doubt that aging is being protracted as technology develops and our understanding of the process of aging improves.
However, with longer lives come struggles with ageism in healthcare, a societal issue that has to be addressed as people continue to live longer. However — again — it’s expected that over 80 million baby boomers will be enrolled in Medicare by 2030 as they reach the age of 65, meaning more and more people will have access to Medicare and Medicaid for things like dental procedures, assisted living, life-improving surgery, and so on — meaning the aging population can expect to live even longer, fuller lives!
6. Older Folks Eat Less
Reckless eating is a young person’s game. As you get older, it’s common to eat less. This often comes from a decline in appetite. One study even found that seniors in different countries tended to eat the fewest snacks throughout the day. They also ate more energy-specific food rather than simply eating for taste’s sake.
7. Older Equals Happier
While the “grumpy old neighbor” is a common stereotype, it turns out to be little more than a myth. Older people are actually happier than their younger adult counterparts.
Whether this comes from a lifetime of controlling their emotions, superior perspectives, greater access to safety nets like Medicaid and Medicare, or a combination of factors, as you age, chances are you’ll be a happier person.
8. Your Tastes Change
No, this isn’t a comment on decorative styles or clothing choices. It’s about your ability to taste your food. As you get older you tend to lose taste buds. In addition, your remaining taste buds can shrink and atrophy, leading to a diminishing sense of taste.
9. Your Sleep Patterns Change, Too
The early years of parenthood are spent scrounging for sleep. Younger adults yearn for the ability to hit that snooze button one more time before getting up and heading to the office.
Once you’re retired and these responsibilities are long gone, it may seem like the perfect time to catch up on sleep — don’t count on it, though. It turns out that you’ll likely start to naturally wake up earlier as you get older. Not only that, but you’ll wake up in the middle of the night more often.
10. Learning is Crucial
While it may feel like your academic years are in the past, as an older person you may want to consider keeping that fire for learning well lit.
According to Dr. Ipsit Vahia from the Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital, “You need to exercise [your brain] with new challenges to keep it healthy.” In other words, if you keep your brain busy learning new things, you can actually slow down any common cognitive aging concerns, like dementia.
While there are many considerations that come with age, it’s easy to address the bulk of the concerns with a firm foundation of knowledge and healthy habits.
Concerns aside, aging can be an incredible adventure. Rather than looking at old age as something to be dreaded or stereotyped — as is the case with ageism, age should be embraced as just another part of the human adventure. Instead of being the slow wind down to your life, it should be seen as the greatest act, the crescendo that all of the rest of your days on Earth have built towards.