How getting older can benefit your mind and your mood

When it comes to aging there are things you should look out for, but there’s plenty to look forward to as well.

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Certain cognitive abilities improve

A common misconception is that cognitive ability automatically declines with age. While there are diseases that affect the brain that are associated with aging, studies show that cognitive skills actually peak at different ages.

Crystallized intelligence — knowledge that comes from past experiences — only grows sharper with age. Certain cognitive proficiencies such as math, vocabulary and general knowledge also peak later in life.

Memory is known to decline with age, but picking up new skills and hobbies keeps your brain sharper as you age and can stop it from declining at faster rates.

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Better at maintaining relationships

A study found that emotional intelligence — the ability to read emotions on others — improves greatly with age. As you grow older, your knowledge of human behavior enhances, and aging adults are more attuned to the feelings of others. In fact, the study also found that having higher emotional intelligence leads to better well-being.

Growing emotional intelligence is a key to maintaining good relationships. You’re able to understand others, build empathy and feel more compassion for others.

Additionally, studies have found that happiness has a U-shaped curve, meaning that as you age past mid-life your well-being increases. This may be due to many reasons such as feeling fewer responsibilities, being more accepting of your circumstances or enjoying your accomplishments.

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Life is less of a headache

Studies have found that headaches and migraines decrease with age. About 92% of women and 74% of men in their twenties reported having headaches. However, after 75 years of age, that number drops to 55% and 21% respectively.

Additionally, migraines can be considered a thing of the past as they tend to disappear with age. According to the UK-based research charity, The Migraine Trust, 40% of people over the age of 65 report that they are not affected by migraines anymore.

However, if you have worsening headache conditions, you may want to consult a doctor for treatment.

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Feeling a lack of energy as you age is unusual.

If you are feeling fatigued this may be a sign of a lack of exercise or a serious health condition.

“When elderly patients complain they’re tired, most doctors say, ‘yeah, well, you’re old,” Dr. Mathew Maurer, associate professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, said of his study. “They tell their patients that feeling listless is an expected part of aging, but there are reasons people are tired and they need to be investigated. For clinicians, the message from our study is that a lack of energy is widespread in the elderly, but it’s not normal.”

Results of a separate British study found older adults who aren’t affected by sleep disorders have even reported feeling less sleepy during the daytime compared to younger adults.

While older adults find the quality of sleep to be negatively impacted as they age, Sleep Foundation says being proactive and setting a strict sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine later at night and exercising can all improve the quality of one’s sleep.

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