The Margin: What, me worry? Seniors may be a lot more chill than younger folks


Sure, you may have a few more aches and pains as you age. But there’s a good side to growing old: You’re likely to be a lot less stressed out.

That’s according to a new study led by David Almeida, professor of human development and family studies at Penn State University.

Almeida found that both the number of daily stressors and how much people react to those stressors decreases with age. His research was published in the Developmental Psychology journal.

“As younger people, we may be juggling more, including jobs, families and homes, all of which create instances of daily stress,” Almeida said in a statement. “But as we age, our social roles and motivations change. Older people talk about wanting to maximize and enjoy the time they have.”

““Older people talk about wanting to maximize and enjoy the time they have.””

— David Almeida of Penn State University

The study focused on adults between the ages of 25 and 74 years old, and followed them over a 20-year period, starting in 1995. According to Penn State, “Respondents participated in telephone interviews that assessed daily levels of stress for eight consecutive days. These daily assessments were repeated at approximately nine-year intervals.”

The findings showed that “25-year-olds reported stressors on nearly 50% of days, while 70-year-olds reported stressors on only 30% of days.”

Just as significant may be the fact that older adults deal better with whatever stress comes their way, the study noted. “A 25-year-old is much grumpier on the days when they experience a stressor, but as we age, we really figure out how to decrease those exposures,” said Almeida.

Still, the pattern may change when people head into their late 60s and early 70s, Almeida said. At that stage, there can be an increase in daily stressors.

Almeida will be continuing to research the topic, looking at how stress patterns evolve in later life.

“Growing older from 35 to 65 is very different than growing older from 65 to 95,” said Almeida. “We’ve started to see that in the data already, but this next round of data collection and analysis will give us an even greater understanding of what that looks like.”

Related research has found that good health, strong relationships and a sense of purpose are all key to a happier retirement, for example.

More on retirement health at MarketWatch:

Want a happier retirement? Longtime friendships can be a source of joy

Getting older and losing confidence? Here’s how to get it back.

Most retirees and near-retirees are worried about the stock market and inflation. Here’s what they’re doing about it. 

Retirement Weekly: 4 numbers retirement savers need to know heading into 2023

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