Jan 30, 2023 - Health

Axios Finish Line: Happiness spikes in our 70s

Illustration of a butterfly resting on a cane

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Americans are staying healthier longer than ever before โ€” and they're transforming what older age looks like.

  • The big picture: "We have essentially created a new stage of life. Americans retire, on average, by their early to mid-60s, yet many now remain vibrant into their mid-80s," David Brooks writes in The Atlantic.

The 70s โ€” a largely overlooked decade of life โ€” can be some of our best years.

๐Ÿงฎ By the numbers: A recent study from AARP and National Geographic found that happiness dwindles in middle age but then spikes again in one's 70s and 80s, as people find themselves with more free time and less stress.

  • 34% of adults in their 80s and 27% of those in their 70s say they're very happy, compared with 18% in their 50s.
  • And 51% of adults in their 70s say they're optimistic about their futures, compared with 44% in their 60s.

๐Ÿง  Reality check: There are, of course, stressors associated with getting older. The study found that independence, brain health and the strength of relationships were older adults' top concerns.

  • As we've reported, there's a growing population of seniors who are aging alone โ€” without any close family around them. This lack of kinship can often contribute to deteriorating mental and physical health.

The bottom line: Many of us fear the prospect of aging, but this stage of life can be enjoyed โ€” and celebrated.

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