Five things that WILL get better with age
There is so much discussion about what gets worse as we get older. And let’s face it – ageing does have its difficulties. But a lot of things actually get better as we age! Did you know that migraines lessen, decision-making skills improve and the myelin sheaths that insulate our neurons in our brains actually get thicker, increasing the speed electrical signals are transmitted?
Below are five (more) things that improve with age.
Resistance to colds and flu
We’ve all heard how dangerous flu can be for people later in life but did you know that when the worst recorded flu epidemics hit, it was young to middle-aged adults who were most impacted? The Spanish flu, for example, was most lethal to those aged 20-40 while the vast majority of fatalities during the swine flu outbreak were those aged under 65. The reason for this is that the vigorous immune systems of the young overreacted to the viruses, with a fatal outcome.
As John Upham from the University of Queensland says, “People who have gone through various epidemics, their immune systems can remember the virus for 40 or 50 years in some cases.”
“It does begin to drop off in your 70s and 80s, but there’s a bit of a sweet spot for people – particularly from your 40s through to your late 60s and early 70s – where the immune system remembers the viruses experienced over the years,” he says.
Here’s another reason why the sneezes should lessen as you get older. Allergies, particularly seasonal ones, tend to dissipate as we age. An allergic reaction is caused by your immune system overreacting to a certain trigger and producing antibodies. These cause your body’s cells to release chemicals, causing allergic symptoms. Some research has shown that because your immune system isn’t as sensitive when you get older, there’s less cause for the overreactions that result in allergies. Now that’s nothing to sneeze at
Emotional stability and happiness
Our mental health generally improves as we age, says a US study, which looked at over 1500 adults ages 21 to 99. While those in their 20s and 30s reported the highest levels of anxiety and stress, respondents in their 90s were the most content! Likewise, A University of Melbourne study of over 400 women found that both negative mood and depressive symptoms decreased with age. “[Older] women feel more in control of their lives … they are often more financially stable and have less responsibility for children. They are free to enjoy the fruits of their hard work and are able to prioritise their own needs and wants,” says one of the study’s researchers, psychologist Katherine Campbell.
Love and sex
While young love is passionate and exciting it can also be unstable, fickle and messy. In contrast, as we get older love often becomes more about trust, constancy and intimacy. According to Maggie Scarf, author of September Songs: The Good News about Marriage in the Later Years the lessons her interviewees had learned over time helped them to find new opportunities to love, cherish, and live alongside each other.
Equally good news is that many studies reveal our sex lives get better as we age! A National Commission on Aging study found that women over 70 are more satisfied sexually than they were in their 40s. For both men and women sex is more emotionally satisfying later in life.
Body image and style
One of the reasons specialists suggest our sex life improves as we get older is that we grow more comfortable with our bodies and feel less self conscious than we did when we were young. Gravity might stop being kind but thankfully the majority of men and women later in life don’t get caught up thinking about body image too much. (In fact, according to one European study of people aged 15 to 87, we ruminate about everything less as we get older!) As we get more comfortable in our skin, we also get more comfortable with our personal style, so we don’t worry about fads and instead pick the clothes we know suit us and make us feel comfortable and happy. THAT is the best sort of style.
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