When you talk to seniors and the elderly, you’ll discover that many of them share a similar perspective. 87% of them want to stay in their own home for the rest of their life. Being able to age in place is one of the fastest-growing trends for the senior living industry. There are multiple benefits to consider: comfort, security, proximity to family, and independence all rate high in importance for those who are aging.
Yet that is only one element to the aging process. It is something that we all go through as we take on the journey that is life. We face bodies that don’t work the same way, aches and pains that are new, and the advancing threats of disease that seek to ruin our good health.
These are some of the biggest pros and cons of aging – though to be fair, every person has a unique perspective on this subject, so think of this information as more of a guideline.
List of the Pros of Aging
1. Seniors are one of the happiest demographics of people in the world today.
Multiple studies and surveys show that seniors are one of the happiest groups of people in the world today. Compared to the middle-aged demographics, they are significantly happier with their circumstances. Part of the reason for this perspective is that they’ve had more time to develop their coping mechanisms. Finances can play a role in this perspective as well. As we age, there is also more time to become comfortable with who we are.
2. There’s nothing like the joy of having grandchildren.
Gore Vidal once offered this observation about aging: “Never have children – only grandchildren.” When the little ones are around, you get to enjoy all the benefits of children without the sleepless nights, the diaper changes, and the extra homework. The love of a grandchild is pure, which creates a closeness that is indescribable. Children benefit from this relationship as well, as kids develop socially and emotionally at their best when 4 to 6 adult family figures are available to them.
3. You have more time to spend with loved ones.
Aging begins to slowly push you out of the working world if that’s what you want. A retirement by itself isn’t a relaxing experience. It is what you choose to do when you stop working for an employer that helps you make life “start at 60.” One of the best components of a retirement is that you have additional time to spend with the people you love. Leisurely lunches with friends, overnights with the grandkids, or that trip overseas you’ve always wanted to take can make aging joyous.
4. Seniors still have an opportunity to pursue their dreams.
As we age, many of us put off our own dreams to care for our families. We focus on making sure that the power stays on, food gets put on the table, and having our children find success in their endeavors. It’s never too late to become the person you’ve always wanted to be. You can still learn a new language, write a book, take a trip, or take up a new hobby, like painting. Some seniors even turn their passions from this discovery process into a second lucrative career later in life.
5. There are more opportunities to start volunteering.
As people age, they tend to see life with a broader perspective. Instead of focusing their energy on drama and conflict, they look toward the creation of a better society. Seniors often want to create a better world for their grandchildren to enjoy. People above the age of 65 vote more than any other age demographic. They volunteer at one of the highest rates, especially in the United States. These are all options that can help you be active and form new relationships.
6. Wisdom comes from the aging process.
If you ask people in their 20s or 30s about how they perceive losing, you’ll find that a majority of people hate it. As we age, the wisdom of experience creates new perspectives. Older people look at the entire experience of life instead of focusing on a specific event which inspires regret. We gain more control over our emotions as we age as well, which typically deepens the relationships formed with a significant other. Aging offers better social skills, a higher emotional intelligence, and thinking of multiple resolutions to problems to create a compromise.
7. There is the potential of a guaranteed income as a senior.
In the United States, there are several safety-net programs in place to help seniors at all socioeconomic levels. Social Security checks, Medicare, and Medicaid all offer seniors guarantees of health insurance and income. There is no longer a need to have children support aging parents. Even seniors who didn’t save anything for their retirement can still be comfortable in their homes because of programs like these. Similar arrangements are often found in the other developed countries of the world too.
8. Let’s not forget about the senior discounts which are available.
It always feels good to get something you need at a lower price than what others receive. Discounts which are offered to seniors are designed to help you save money when you might have a limited, fixed income. They’re also a way for seniors to stay active and engaged with services that meet their exact needs. From medication to transportation and everything in-between, there are numerous providers offering discounts in every community right now.
9. You feel a sense of accomplishment.
As the aging process continues, you can look back upon your life and feel the pride which comes when you accomplish great things. Our greatest feats in life come from the ordinary. Calming a child when they cry, preserving your marriage, serving in the military, telling a joke that made someone smile – these are the moments we treasure.
List of the Cons of Aging
1. Senior care comes at a higher cost.
As we get older, the cost for our healthcare needs steadily rises. If you find yourself needing a nursing home or an assisted living facility, the costs involved could be as much as the average person in the United States makes in a year. Private facilities are even more expense. Without insurance or Medicare, a private room at a nursing home could cost almost $100,000 per year. Even an assisted living facility charges an average of $43,000 annually. Even with long-term care insurance, some families can’t afford that price.
2. There is always a safety concern for seniors.
Even seniors who are in fantastic shape have a higher risk of experience specific health conditions. You’re more likely to break bones as you get older as calcium becomes harder to absorb. Eyesight quality decreases, which can make it difficult to drive places or maintain your independence. It may become difficult to walk. At some point, almost everyone needs some extra in-home care to maintain their lifestyle as they grow older.
3. It becomes difficult to maintain your property.
As you get older, you’ll find that your daily living activities take longer to complete. Items that are on your to-do list that were once simple fixes become elaborate chores. Trying to find a contractor to help you take care of the lawn, clean your home, or even change your light bulbs can become a major headache quickly. There are the costs of hiring helpers to consider as well. That’s why many seniors rely on the help of their family to ensure that they can stay in their homes as long as possible.
4. Aging brings about an increase in loneliness.
Seniors must make a proactive effort to maintain their social connections. Even when Facebook and other online conversations, texting and video calls are not the same as a face-to-face conversation. There are many health problems associated with loneliness too, which makes the sadness of being alone more profound. If you only have a few trusted friends now, then you’re at a greater risk of experiencing this issue as you get older.
5. It is more difficult to get around as you get older.
If your health declines to the point that you are no longer authorized to drive, then you’re forced to rely on public transportation, family, or friends to help you get around. Trouble with your legs could make portions of your home inaccessible to you without costly mobility upgrades. Even simple tasks, like getting into the bathtub, become dangerous chores as you get older. You could hurt yourself reaching for a plate in an upper cabinet. That’s why aging requires you to take a different look at life’s perspectives.
With the biggest pros and cons of aging under consideration, one must balance the wisdom and experience that time provides us with an increased risk of suffering from various health issues. There are challenges to mobility that must be considered, especially when looking at a person’s social needs. When balanced appropriately, aging can be a wonderful experience. That balance is achieved when efforts are made in our youth to plan for such a future.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.