An enforced lunch break in our office has seen the conversation around the table lurch from prostitution, to what the boss did when he was held up in a bank robbery to our core business - growing old and how none of us are looking forward to it.
But a renowned psychologist says older people are nailing the art of happiness and the concept of ageing, which often evokes a sense of dread, shouldn’t, especially if you’re a woman.
71-year old clinical psychologist Mary Pipher says there’s very good research from the University of California that shows that the happiest demographic in both the UK and the US is older women.
She says, “In fact, people as they age in the US get happier right up until the last three months before they die.”
Dr Pipher says the research also shows men experience an increase in happiness as they age but there are some experiences in ageing that don’t translate across the sexes.
For example, young women are valued for their attractiveness and are socialised to be caretakers which can often contribute to unhappiness.
She says by older age women have devolved themselves of that weight and report ‘greater self-acceptance, a more relaxed sense of who they are, flaws and all.
And as if she’s been reading our minds Dr Phipher says, “Ageing is not what it was, we need to refresh our views on it.”
She says, “When you realise that the runway is short, you simultaneously realise how fortunate we are to be alive and more importantly, ageing brings with it a greater impetus to do, rather than simply consider doing, the things that bring us pleasure.”
Given that people in their 90s are Australia’s fastest growing senior age group, there is an impetus for us as Australians to work towards embracing some of Dr Phipher’s philosophies.
The number of ‘nonagenarians’ has grown by 67% in the past decade and shows no sign of slowing down.