Chapter 19 : Successful aging

How might your ability to age successfully as an older adult be related to what you are doing in your life now?

Though some aspects of development change over one's lifespan, there are factors that help maintain our health and cognitive functioning throughout life. When talking about aging, one may talk about normal aging, which is characterized by a peak of cognitive functioning in mid-life and then a steady decline towards death (Santrock, 2019). Or one may mention pathological aging, which is comprised of older individuals that show a decline that is more accelerated than the average (Santrock, 2019). In all stages of life, a healthy diet, active lifestyle, engagement in community and a sense of optimism contribute to graceful aging and a more fulfilled feeling in day to day life (Santrock, 2019, p. 599). Thinking about aging successfully begs a more philosophical question of whether "success" means being satisfied with what you have, or maximizing your time on the planet.

I think of a fundamental aspect to my successful aging will be staying physically active and socially engaging in a community. Being social and active are two key things that make me happy, and whether or not I get to lead a long life, I would love to lead a happy one. My experience as an older adult will likely be affected by my choices today around having a relatively healthy diet, active and social life, and living a life in which I am constantly needing to learn and adapt to new situations. I am currently single, which statistically speaking will lead me to a less fulfilling life, higher level of depression, and an earlier death. I am lucky to lead a life in which I have enough money to feed myself and house myself, so my basic stress levels are not as elevated as they could be.

Santrock, J. W. (2019). Lifespan development (17th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.