Weekend Reading: It's Time to Throw Out Stereotypes on Aging

This article appears as part of Casey Weade's Weekend Reading for Retirees series. Every Friday, Casey highlights four hand-picked articles on trending retirement topics and delivers them straight to your email inbox. Get on the list here.
Weekend reading aging stereotypes Weekend reading aging stereotypes
Weekend Reading

According to 2021 research conducted by AARP and National Geographic, titled “Second Half of Life Study”, many of the ideas and stereotypes we hold about aging are wrong. Simply put, many Americans aged 60-plus are living the good life. Broken into sections, here is a conclusion of the results around aging today:


Part 1 - Health redefined: Eight out of ten people in their 80s are now living with one or more chronic health conditions. Despite this, however, the majority still rank their overall health as “very good” or “excellent”, which shows just how powerful a positive, resilient attitude can be. Additionally, a focus on consuming nutritious foods, daily movement and even strength training lend to extended longevity.

Part 2 - Money perceptions: A little more than half of people aged 70 and older feel their financial situation is “excellent” or “very good”, but in the same light, nearly four in ten survey respondents aged 60-plus said they are worried their money will not last their lifetime.

Part 3 - The pursuit of happiness: As aligned with the “U Curve of Happiness” model, individuals aged 50-plus are the happiest. Interestingly enough, however, those aged 80-plus are also the least optimistic, and seem to find more pleasure in life’s simplicity.

Part 4 - Relationships: In the realm of relationships at every age group, the majority put family first before friends. Additionally, most experience a linear increase in the joy they receive from their relationships over time.

Part 5 - Life stages: The theory of a “midlife crisis” can be put to rest, as it's actually in their 60s when many shift their attitude around aging. Life expectancy concerns drop, but worries about stamina, cognitive decline and eyesight rise. This is a point in time when you might step back and truly realize how important your health is.

Part 6 - Final years: Based on respondents in this study, the fear of death declined with age. And, those aged 85-plus reported that in nearly all important life categories, everything they worried about when they were young turned out fine, be it relationships, living arrangements, mental sharpness, finances or mobility.

Cultivate wisdom for joy: Could you take a lesson from every life stage, combine them, and maximize your happiness now, instead of waiting until your later years?