Do you ever dream about the wild parties you'll have when you're 70 years old? If not, maybe you should - for the sake of your health. A new study shows that young people who view old age as a miserable time of life are more likely to engage in binge drinking, smoking, eating junk food, and other unhealthy habits than their peers who have a more positive perspective of old age.
The Riderwood retirement community in Silver Spring, Maryland hosted a Wii Home Run Derby last summer. Image: Kotaku
As researcher John Garry from Queen's University explains in his research, old age is a lot more fun than most young people realize. He surveyed a group of people in their golden years, and found the wide majority were as happy at their present age as they were at any other time in their life. The study was performed on behalf of the Changing Ageing Partnership.
"I am surprised that so many young people think that getting older means being unhappy," said Archie Lindsay, commenting on the study. "My wife and I are both in our seventies and are as happy now as we were thirty years ago - and I think many of our friends would say the same."
Nevertheless, Garry found that many young people do not have the same view. He found that many young people associate growing old with being miserable, so that they don't see any benefit in preserving their health for old age. In a sense, they're determined to ‘live it up' while they're young because they are convinced that, as they grow older, they will become more and more miserable, Garry explained.
Garry found a strong link between the belief that happiness declines with age and levels of binge drinking, especially in young men. He explained that young people seem to have little concern about "abusing their bodies through alcohol" because they see little point in preserving their health for a "miserable old age."
He hopes that health professionals might consider addressing this misconception of old age when working with individuals with drinking problems. If young people understand that growing old can be as much fun as being young, they may be inspired to take better care of their health.
"It's important that young people realize that they can still enjoy life as they get older," added Lindsay. "As long as they make an effort to look after themselves, there's no reason why they shouldn't look forward to a happy and fulfilled old age."
via: Queen's University