WASHINGTON — Is life in and of itself like a fine wine, that is, does it get better with age? While many of us fear what’s to come in our elder years, a new survey finds that most older adults are actually more content than their younger or middle-aged counterparts.
Researchers at AARP conducted a survey with over 2,600 young (i.e., aged 18 to 39), mid-aged (40 to 59), and older respondents (those 60-plus) to gauge attitudes on the phenomenon of aging.
Forty-seven percent of the younger group expressed that it’s “normal to be depressed when you are old,” while only about 10 percent of those aged 60 or older said that one’s elderly years are truly a “depressing stage of life.”
Overall, 67 percent of older respondents reported being “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their life, compared to only 61 percent of those aged 18 to 39 and 60 percent of those aged 40 to 59.
“The findings of this new survey are further confirmation of something a lot of people, especially older people, know instinctively and that is that our upper ages can be great,” says Jo Ann Jenkins, AARP’s CEO, in a press release. “However, I think the survey also presents a fairly stark reminder that we’re all faced by a lot of negative associations around aging – some of it’s ‘in the culture’ and some of it may be self-generated, but it’s all damaging and, as this survey shows, it’s often wrong.”
For all of the often unrecognized benefits to being elderly, however, there are still disadvantages, the survey shows.
Older individuals aren’t seen to be served as well as other demographics by certain sectors, including the fashion industry (as expressed by 68 percent of respondents), technology (62 percent), sports (58 percent), and entertainment (55 percent).
“Despite the massive and growing size of the 60-plus population, which already accounts for more than $7.1 trillion of annual spending in the U.S., we don’t see a lot of products and service being developed specifically with the interests and needs of older people in mind,” Jenkins notes.
Jenkins emphasizes that commerce is missing out on a big business opportunity by ignoring the elderly generation.
All in all, the survey’s main takeaway may be that fear of getting older is just an antiquated thought.