Even though I’m well into my 50s, I sometimes have trouble believing that to be true. At other times there are numerous reality checks.
Occasionally, it’s knee pain that reduces my usual brisk walk to a slow limp. Or a look in the mirror showing grey or white hair sprouting from my face. Or the very few hairs of any shade adorning the top of my head.
My two adult sons will often pull me into line, too, if I forget that I’m closer to turning 100 than to my birth date. They’ll ridicule my lack of tech skills as I struggle with my smart phone or a late model television.
It’s easy to get hung up on those issues, but there are some aspects of life in which we peak well beyond the age of 50.
Potential peaks of older age
Professor of neuroscience Daniel Levitin helpfully points out the many aspects of life where we get better as we age in his book The Changing Mind.
Some of the peaks highlighted by Prof. Levetin might seem to have come a little too late for the over-50s. He points out that peaking in chess and ultramarathons occurs for most in their 40s. But that’s not necessarily all bad news.
In the case of chess, older players’ training and the accumulation of experience likely confers an advantage that will last years. And although the ultramarathoner’s peak might come in their 40s, most will be nearly as good for some years after. They will not simply ‘fall off a cliff’ the moment they hit 50.
In even better news, Prof. Levetin provides examples of humans peaking well beyond the age of 50. These peaks can even involve physical sporting activities. One such example is horse riding. In Olympic equestrian events, medals, including gold, have been won by riders in their 50s and 60s. And riders aged beyond 70 have qualified for Olympic participation.
Equestrian events aren’t within the scope of all older people, of course, but such examples at least provide hope.
It’s all in the mind
While reaching physical sporting peaks at ages beyond 50 might not be the norm for another few generations, it’s a different story above the shoulders. Evidence points to humans reaching an mathematical peak in their 50s. And we reach the summit it terms of self-esteem with the age range of 50 to 70.
There’s plenty to look forward to in your 60s, too. Nobel Prize winners? There have been more in their 60s than in other age ranges. Vocabulary skills? Expect to peak at around 65. Emotional stability and positive relationships? Yep, we’re at our best in that regard after hitting 60.
Even in our 70s and 80s we can reach ‘good’ peaks, Women achieve peak body satisfaction at age 74, says Prof. Levetin, and men do the same at age 80. Better late than never!
Perhaps most important of all is happiness. And one American survey showed that peak happiness occurred not in youth but at around 82.
So, regardless of age, there’s likely at least one life aspect in which you’re in prime position to peak. The next time you suddenly remember your age, remember that too.
Do you struggle with accepting your age? What do you do to overcome those doubts? Let us know via the comments section below.
Also read: How to embrace ageing positively