This Associated Press article brought to my attention by geriatrician Hilary Siebens chirps, “It turns out everything doesn't go downhill as we age — the golden years really are golden.” A three-decade study of 28,000 people conducted by Yang Yang, a University of Chicago sociologist, showed older Americans to be the happiest at every stage. You gotta love the number-crunching: “In general, the odds of being happy increased 5 percent with every 10 years of age.” A separate University of Chicago study found that older people were more sociable too, with respondents in their 80s twice as likely as those in their 50s to engage in an activity like attending religious services or participating in community events.
Once again, as the “U-shaped happiness pattern” study posted about here showed, those in midlife were the least happy. Is that because older people have learned to be content with their lot, as Yang suggests? That’s certainly the case with the people I’m interviewing. Though quick to describe themselves as very lucky, all have had to come to terms with the significant losses that accompany old age. Will baby boomers, resolutely focused on “having it all” — forever — manage this transition as well?