Ten Advantages of Being Older that We Can Be Thankful for This Thanksgiving 

It’s Thanksgiving week, a perfect time for reflection and gratitude for all that has happened this year. As most of us are aware, the process of aging can present its fair set of challenges, but it’s also important to realize that the positive aspects of aging often drastically outweigh the negatives. Below are some of the things seniors can be especially grateful for this and every Thanksgiving: 

  1. Wisdom from Experience: Most of us are aware of how much can be learned simply by living our lives. In fact, real life experience brings about wisdom that simply can’t be learned otherwise. Along with the wisdom that comes from learned experience, another advantage of old age is the ability to empathize. Empathy is sensing other people’s emotions and imagining what someone else might be thinking or feeling. Both wisdom from experience and empathy for others are things that we become more attuned to as we get older.
  2. A Happier, More Positive Outlook: Neuroscientists have suggested that seniors have a sunnier outlook as we get older. This is because the amygdala, an area of the brain involved in emotional attention and memory, becomes less active in response to negative information. Seniors often maintain or even increase their reactivity to positive information for the same scientific reason. 
  3. An “Attitude of Gratitude”: Studies have shown that gratitude has a uniquely powerful relationship with health and well-being, both our own and of those around us. Gratitude encourages us to focus on “what is” rather than “what is not.” Many seniors realize that by practicing gratitude over time, we can learn to notice and appreciate not only the positives, but also develop better attitudes about the negatives — the challenges, losses, and frustrations that we all face as we age. The best way many seniors practice gratitude over time is to build it into our daily routine as a habit, much the same way that we do brushing our teeth. To learn more about the tremendous health benefits of an “attitude of gratitude,” please read my article on the subject.
  4. Opportunity to Pursue Lifelong Dreams: Not working gives retirees an extra 40+ hours of free time that they may not have had before. This time can be dedicated to pursuing other lifelong passions and dreams, such as art, music, learning a new language, traveling, etc.
  5. Financial Perks/Discounts: As we get older, government programs such as Medicare and Social Security become available. There is also an abundance of senior discounts, including those specific to travel, dining, and shopping, that you can use. 
  6. More Time for Yourselves and Your Loved Ones: As you get older, you have more free time to not only do what you enjoy most, but to spend time with those who really matter to you, including family and pets. Which brings us to the next advantage of old age…
  7. Grandchildren: There is no better feeling than seeing our own children find happiness and success, and in many cases, bring us grandchildren! The experience of raising our own children makes us value our grandchildren that much more. Plus, grandchildren generally offer love and fulfilling relationships with a lot less responsibility (you can spoil them… and then give them back to their parents to deal with the more difficult stuff!)
  8. Lifelong Friendships and Relationships: By the time we’ve gotten older, we know who our close friends are and which relationships are most important to us. Having and maintaining quality friendships and strong, loving relationships is important for socialization and combatting loneliness, which is a huge factor for longevity.
  9. Experiences to Share and Good Stories to Tell: The longer we live, the more of a legacy we have to share with others. Fond memories, whether kept to ourselves or shared with others, are a huge advantage of old age, and often translate to good stories to tell. 
  10. More Self Esteem: Age 60 (which is a part of mid-life, according to Time Magazine) is the best time in your life for self-esteem, according to a paper published in the journal Psychological Bulletin — and those positive feelings may stay at their peak for an entire decade. “Midlife is, for many adults, a time of highly stable life circumstances in domains such as relationships and work. Moreover, during middle adulthood, most individuals further invest in the social roles they hold, which might promote their self-esteem,” study co-author Ulrich Orth, a professor of psychology at the University of Bern in Switzerland. “For example, people take on managerial roles at work, maintain a satisfying relationship with their spouse or partner, and help their children to become responsible and independent adults.” 

Now that you have plenty of things to be grateful for, let’s look at fun ways to practice that gratitude! 

Best Ways to Practice Gratitude 

  • Ask yourself every morning, ‘What am I grateful for today?’” 
  • Keep a Gratitude Journal. Spend a few minutes each night thinking about three to five highlights from your day, then write them down. You can reflect upon your gratitude journal whenever you need to be reminded of all the things you are thankful for. 
  • Send thank-you cards to old friends, family, acquaintances, and even health care providers to say thanks for their care this year! 
  • Harness technology for good and put subtle reminders in your phone every day to be thankful. Reminders can come in the form of an inspirational quote, a compliment to yourself, or a simple activity such as looking outside and admiring the changing colors of the leaves. 
  • Take deep breaths. This easy practice can allow for one simple moment of gratitude. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths and start the flow of thankful energy. Be grateful for your breath, because you wouldn’t be here without it. Continue to be in that gratitude for a few seconds or longer if you choose. The Apple Watch has a feature that reminds people to take a mindful moment and just breathe!  
  • Say thank you to everyone in your life, from friends and family to colleagues to the check out person at the grocery store. Verbalizing your gratitude is a great way to cultivate it. 
  • Smile. Smiling makes your brain happy and it’s proven by science. When a smile flashes across your face; dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin are all released into your bloodstream, making you more relaxed. Smile at people as you walk by them, which communicates a sense of oneness and well-being. 
  • Send a text message, make a phone call, write a post on social media. A simple “thank you for making my life brighter” message, in any format, can go a long way to both the giver and the receiver. 
  • Give Compliments Daily. Whether you know the person or not, give compliments as you think of them. Be genuine and specific. While the individual who receives the praise will appreciate feeling noticed and valued (and is motivated to do more of the same), the giver can also delight in the connection. 
  • Slow Down and Enjoy the Small Things. Choose one everyday experience and take time to enjoy every aspect of it. For example, if you take a walk in the morning, take in all the sights, sounds, and smells. Appreciating the small things will only allow for greater appreciation of the big things. 

There is never a shortage of things to be thankful for if we just take the time to look. This Thanksgiving, be thankful for the wonderful things in your life and be sure to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” that can last throughout the year. 

Be Thankful and Grateful for Peace of Mind 

Peace of mind is a big part of lessening anxiety and being grateful for the life we have and the people we love. I am very grateful to all the people in our lives who enhance our lives every day, including our amazing staff, and very grateful that our firm has the opportunity every day to give our wonderful clients the peace of mind that they deserve. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from the Farr Law Firm! 

Thankful in Fairfax: 703-691-1888
Thankful in Fredericksburg: 540-479-1435
Thankful in Rockville: 301-519-8041
Thankful in DC: 202-587-2797 

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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