A new poll from Gallup reveals that older Americans are more emotionally healthy than their younger counterparts. Could this make getting old something to look forward to? Reading through the results, it seems that although aging has its downsides, people in their 70′s and 80′s reported significantly higher emotional health than younger Americans.
Gallup acknowledged that its poll may not have reached people who are physically impaired and live in nursing homes, and may be more depressed or unhappy, but added that this omission is probably not enough to account for the gap between older and younger Americans. I guess we have to trust them on that one.
A shockingly low percentage of Americans reports high emotional health, regardless of their age. Less than 1 in 3 Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 has good emotional health. Emotional health then drops from there, and remains mostly constant until people reach their 60′s, when the percentage skyrockets to 31%. The Americans with the highest emotional health are people between the age of 70 and 80, according to Gallup’s findings.
Although it may seem strange that elderly people would have the highest emotional health, given the premium that our culture places on youth, these findings actually make sense. People begin to retire in their 60′s, and no longer have the stress and pressure of a career. They are also not trying to balance their work and family life, and their children are probably out of the house (or close to it). Chances are, if they’re married, their spouse is still alive, and their health is still fairly good. In many ways, 70 is a great age to be, especially if you have saved throughout your life. No wonder 70-year-olds are more likely to report “smiling/laughing, learning/doing something interesting, being treated with respect, enjoyment, happiness” in the past day.
Photo from SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget via flickr.