Call it the upside of aging. Some changes are for the better…honest! Here are five of those changes that may make you overlook the number of candles on the cake.
1.Your Skin Gets Better — In Some Ways
“Our skin typically becomes less oily,” says Julie Karen, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist in private practice. Your sebaceous glands simply produce less oil as you get older, which can be very welcome news for those who’ve had acne since their teen years. As the oiliness declines, so does the acne. “Even the acne that does come as an adult tends to be less severe,” Dr. Karen says.
And as for wrinkles: From a dermatologist’s point of view, they can actually be a boon, she says. “If you need to have surgery, such as for skin cancer, it’s easier to hide a scar under a wrinkle.”
How to Thrive: Aging changes your skin, of course. Wrinkles and sagging happen. The skin’s outer layer, the epidermis, thins. You can bruise more easily, and you may chill more easily. To keep your skin as healthy as possible, protect your skin from ultraviolet radiation with a good quality sunscreen year-round. And be sure to hydrate, as being dehydrated can affect the elasticity of your skin.
- You’re Still Building Lifelong Brain Skills
With age, lots of people worry that their brain power is on the decline. But the opposite may actually be true, according to research in the April 2015 issue of Psychological Science. It turns out that some of our cognitive skills, such as the ability to remember names, learn new words, and process information, peak at different times.
According to the study researchers, your word knowledge doesn’t peak until your sixties and seventies. Their conclusions are based on the results of standard IQ and memory tests taken online by nearly 50,000 participants, which included kids through older adults.
Another finding: Older adults in their forties and fifties were also better than younger people at reading other people’s emotional states. This can be a valuable skill that helps you decide how to react in sticky situations, such as when you know you’ve really annoyed a friend or your partner.
How to Thrive: Your ability to process information in a speedy manner tends to peak in your early twenties, and then gradually declines. In your forties, you may start having difficulties remembering things, according to the American Psychological Association. But it doesn’t have to be this way: You can prevent those skills from declining with some effort. People who engage in vigorous mental activities — such as doing puzzles, reading every day, or learning new skills — throughout their lives experienced slower cognitive decline than those who didn’t, according to a study in the June 2014 issue of JAMA Neurology.
- You Could Kiss Those Migraines Goodbye With Age
Not everyone gets this bonus of aging, but some may experience fewer migraines. About 40 percent of people with migraines will notice they don’t have them anymore by age 65, according to The Migraine Trust, a United Kingdom-based migraine research charity.
How to Thrive: Migraines have numerous triggers, so you may or may not experience a dip in attacks as you age. Since other health conditions could provoke migraines, aim to keep existing problems under control, and to prevent others from developing. And if you get migraines for the first time as an older adult, check with your doctor to be sure some underlying disease isn’t responsible.
- You’ll Yawn Less During the Day as You Age
If you’re healthy and between 66 and 83 years old, you can expect to be less sleepy during the day, according to a 2010 study in the journal Sleep. British researchers studied young, healthy adults (20 to 30 years old), middle-aged adults (40 to 55 years old), and older adults for two nights as they slept in a sleep lab. (The word “slept” is used loosely, since researchers may or may not have disrupted particpants’ sleep before looking at the effects.)
“Healthy older adults without sleep disorders can expect to be less sleepy during the daytime than young adults,” says Derk-Jan Dijk, PhD, one of the study’s authors and a researcher at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, about their findings.
How to Thrive: True, you may not sleep like a baby at night. Paying attention to sleep habits — what doctors call “sleep hygiene” — can help. As difficult as it may be for seniors, it’s important to go to bed and get up at the same times every day, even on Saturdays and Sundays. No caffeine for 8 hours before bed, and regular exercise, may help you get a better night’s sleep, too.
- Your Self-Confidence Is Booming
As people age, their knowledge of the world — and themselves — grows. “Their sense of self identity gets stronger, and they’ve acquired a lot of different experiences to support that,” says Elizabeth Glisky, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Arizona in Tucson. “With all these things together, you know who you are and what you’re about, and you have a lot more self-confidence than when you were younger.”
How to Thrive: Of course, everyone’s self-confidence can suffer at one time or another. One way to keep your identity and assurance high is to replace negative thoughts (“I didn’t do well investing this year”) with more positive ones (“I’ll search for a new adviser and read up”).