There are many advantages to growing older; along with greater wisdom, experience, and patience, older adults are often happier than their younger counterparts. Seniors have learned how to roll with the punches and find joy in many of life’s simple pleasures but a recent study found that even though older adults may be happier people, they don’t necessarily possess high self-esteem.
According to a recent post in Psychology Today Canada, a large study conducted by the American Psychological Association found that self-esteem rose steadily among participants from age 25 until retirement age around 60 to 65 years of age; then started declining steadily. Is earning power tied closely to a person’s self-worth? Or was the decline related to older adults’ confidence in their cognitive abilities?
Author and aging influencer Ashton Applewhite gets at the heart of the primary factor that contributes to a loss of confidence among older adults; ageism. Older adults, even those who have health problems or have lost a loved one more often report feeling happy about life but at the same time, they may feel a loss of control over their lives and lack social inclusion. With widespread ageism in our culture, older people often internalize stereotypes about themselves that harm their feelings of self-esteem.
Seniors may feel on some level that the biases against older people are true; they have less value because they can’t keep up with technology, because they require help with some daily tasks, need to wear a hearing aid or must use a cane or a walker to get around. Older adults can also be hard on themselves because they have more wrinkles, greying hair or a bit of a soft midsection.
To fight ageism and improve self-esteem among older adults, not only does systemic ageism in society need to be addressed, seniors themselves must learn to shut down the negative self-talk when it creeps into the mind. Older adults deserve love, appreciation and respect. With more positive messages about aging in the world, seniors can experience happiness and high self-esteem, as they should.