My diagnosis with Parkinson's Disease in September 2009 at age 80 gave my life a new focus and challenge. Finding ways to meet this challenge helped make 2010 the best year of my life. I hope this blog will be a place where I can connect with others who also are dealing with aging and its afflictions and attractions so that we can share our "experience, strength and hope."
August 19, 2014
What's the Best Age to Be?
At the beginning of my “career” as a blogger, I described 2010 -- my
first full year as a newly diagnosed Parkinsonian -- as the best year of my
life. Knowing about -- and facing -- this disease gave my life new energy, challenge, and focus.
Of course, some of the inevitable effects of the disease are catching up with
me these days. But four years ago… well… the Parkinson’s honeymoon was just
beginning, and things looked pretty good.
That assessment about happiness at 80 turns out not to be completely odd after
published August 6, 2014 on FiveThirtyEight.com titled "What’s The Best Age To Be?" got my attention, and reminded me of my pronouncement about 2010.
some of the answers to that question.
A survey of
1,505 Britons by Genius Gluten Free found that – at 29 years of age – people
had the greatest number of friends. The more friends we have, the happier we
are? I see people on Facebook with more than a thousand friends and they don’t often seem very happy to me.
It’s Before 25
unscientific commentary in the “Onion” suggested that a group of
retirees reported making the most important or life-changing memories before
age 25. That’s another bizarre definition of happiness.
It’s 28 for the Ladies
Perfect 10 – a hair color brand – commissioned a study of 4,000 women. The
At 28, women
are most happy about their sex lives.
At 29, women
as most happy about their careers.
By 30, women
are happiest with their relationships.
work, and relationships. All important stuff. But markers -- by themselves -- for happiness? Again, way too simplistic.
ridiculously unscientific and wacky review on Gawker, Tom Scocca rated all
ages up until age 40. His conclusions? Thirteen was the worst, and 34 the best.
But let’s move on.
of deodorant manufacturers asked 2,000 Britons about the issue. Results? Age 37
was the average age by which the study subjects felt they would have achieved
their important life goals.
that graphic looked like:
It’s 70 and
organization asked 85,145 American adults this question: "On a five-point scale,
where 5 means strongly agree and 1 means strongly disagree, please rate your
level of agreement with the following item – You always feel good about your
I was delighted to see that the highest marks for men came
from survey participants between 80-84 years of age.
got a pretty strange criterion: Happiness as contentment with physical
appearance? Fun, but that’s about it.
It’s 23… and
School of Economics’ Center for Economic Performance asked 23,161 Germans about
their life satisfaction. Interestingly, it peaked twice: when subjects were 23
and again at 69. As a corollary to the survey, organizers asked respondents to
gaze into the crystal ball and guess where their life satisfaction would be
five years into the future.
tended to overestimate future satisfaction most when they were in their 20s.
From there, they continued to feel better about the future than the present –
in a diminishing trend – until they were about 55, when their predictions about
future satisfaction were the most grim. From that point on – and peaking at 69
– those Germans thought their satisfaction with life was even higher than
they’d imagined it would be.
– perhaps the most scientific of these overviews – makes some sense to me.
82 and 85
A team from
Stony Brook University assessed polling data from 340,847 Americans, who were
asked to "imagine a ladder with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at
the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you. On
which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this
While the results showed a pattern similar to the data from
the German study above – with satisfaction highest in study
subjects who were in their 20s and those much later in life – the highest marks
went to individuals between 82 and 85.
“happiness” and “life satisfaction” are conditions infinitely more varied and complicated than those – like assessment of physical appearance
-- covered in this overview. Still, I’m liking the Stony Brook conclusion most…
thinking – and hoping – that my best possible life is happening right now.