Aging is a Dirty Word
True, given our culture. But it shouldn’t be.
Welcome back to Age Wise, exploring the science of improving physical health and mental wellness at every stage of life. This week, thoughts on a certain 5-letter word…
“It’s a dirty word, aging,” the 56-year-old, post-menopausal actress Helena Bonham Carter said recently. “We're all obsessed with it, it’s sort of pathological. It’s almost a crime, the shame attached.”
In an interview on BBC radio, Carter went on to say she’s happier now than she’s ever been, and has no desire to return to her youth. Though elsewhere she likened going through menopause to “going insane.” (I have some thoughts on menopause below.) Ultimately, she offered this tidbit of wisdom:
“We can’t actually control what we look like, but we think we can, and in fact there’s so much else we should worry about.”
Carter isn’t the only “older person” who’s grown happier with age. On average, older people are much happier than people in middle age. Whether the upswing starts in your 50s or 60s—or at all—can depend on my factors, including when the kids move out, what you decide to do with all that extra time they leave you with, how your health goes, whether you enjoy your job, if you have sufficient retirement funds, and much more. While not all of that is totally in your control, research finds that the perspective and wisdom that can come with aging brings contentment and joy even in the face of ongoing challenges. We learn to appreciate what we have and worry less about what we don’t.
The bottom line: Odds are good days are ahead, if you embrace what’s coming and ignore all the harmful anti-aging BS, work on your physical, mental and emotional well-being through physical activity, good diet and good sleep, and perhaps some mindfulness, and stop worrying about getting older. After all, the fear of aging will only make you age faster, science says.
Also worth mentioning…
Speaking of menopause, can we please actually talk about it? As I wrote recently on Medium:
Few human conditions so seriously, surely, and yet unexpectedly affect the health of half the global population as menopause, marked by everything from hot flashes and night sweats to serious internal plumbing problems, poor sleep and notable ongoing health risks. Likewise, few conditions of such seriousness are less talked about or more misunderstood.
Guys, this means you, too. Here’s the article:
Also: A new study out today, conducted over two years, finds calorie restriction—cutting back by 25%—slowed the pace of aging in healthy, non-obese humans, indicating they would tend to live longer and in better health.
"However, our study provides a proof-of-concept that a behavioral intervention can have measurable impact on the pace of aging," one of the researchers told me. "This opens the door to testing the anti-aging effects of other approaches, such as time-restricted feeding or intermittent fasting, which might scale more easily to a broader sector of the population.”
Totally unrelated: If you think sleeping pills are a good solution to sleeping problems, I encourage you to think again. I wrote this week about the reality:
Following up: In last week’s newsletter, I asked, “If you could stay reasonably healthy, would you want to live forever?” Here are the results:
I’m working on a feature story about the state of longevity research and the true prospects for increasing lifespans by decades or more, which I’ll publish later this month. So far, fascinating research and interviews!
Take care of yourself, now and again.
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Hi Robert, I have a weekly Substack The Pleasure Principle: Savoring Life After 50, and my first post uses the U-graph from the study to bolster the assertion that life is happier when we get old. Take a look!
https://catherinehiller.substack.com/archive?sort=new Maybe we can cross post our Substacks!