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Self: What to Expect in Your 70s and Beyond

Plus, laughter really is the best medicine

What To Expect In Your 70s


THE LOWDOWN: You are reconnecting with old friends, remain independent and feel young at heart, yet you can be overconfident in handling affairs.

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In Your 70s and Beyond You ...

You are ever happier! … By age 80, about 55 percent of Americans say they feel joyful and content, versus 31 percent at age 20, concludes a University of California, San Diego, study of 1,546 people.

… are rediscovering the joys of friendship … One study discovered a surprising pattern: People reached out less and less during their late 50s and 60s, then made contact more and more often in their 70s and 80s.

… and want to stay local for friends and family. Two out of 3 people in their 70s who plan to stay in their homes say nearby relatives and friends are a top reason why.

You love the retirement lifestyle … There's less stress — and more opportunity to do what you love, including getting together with family (71 percent), hobbies (65 percent) and traveling (50 percent). Overall, you currently spend almost three more hours per day on leisure pursuits.

… remain healthy … Most people in their 70s aren't experiencing the big downsides of aging that younger people fear most — such as memory loss, giving up your driver's license or a serious illness, a Pew Research Center report found.

… and live on your own and plan to keep it that way. Ninety percent of people in their 70s were living in their own place, according to that Pew report. Ninety-one percent, in an AARP/National Council on Aging survey, say they plan to stay in their own place for the next five to 10 years.

You like what you see in the mirror … About 73 percent of men and 68 percent of women in their mid-70s told a recent Gallup poll that they always or almost always feel good about their appearance, up from 55 percent of men and 49 percent of women in their mid-50s.

… feel 10 years younger … Fifty-seven percent of people in their mid-70s feel younger than their chronological age.

… though may need more help than you realize. One in 4 sons and daughters say their 70-something parents need a hand managing their affairs, but just 1 in 9 of their parents think they need it.


You get plenty of respect. Six in 10 people in their late 70s said "more respect" is an important bonus of getting older.

You don't want to be called "elderly." Ninety-six percent of people in a recent survey said they didn't want to be called an "aging American" — or a "Golden Ager," either.

You connect with a higher power regularly. Prayer is a daily habit for 76 percent of people in their 70s.

Try This Now

Laugh every day. Whether you giggle politely or guffaw till your face hurts, don't miss out on a daily chuckle. Laughing can give your immune system a temporary boost, ease pain, relax arteries and offer your torso a miniworkout. In a study of people in their late 60s and early 70s, memory improved and stress levels dropped for those who watched 20 minutes of the TV show America's Funniest Home Videos. "Laughter is too important to have it depend on hearing a good joke," notes Jeffrey Briar, director of the Laughter Yoga Institute in Laguna Beach, Calif. Check out how to get your daily humor fix.

Try laughter yoga. With roots in India, this practice has spread across the globe via laughter clubs and online videos. Research it on the web, and take a test-drive. You can search online for a laughter-yoga club near you — or invite friends over to try out easy moves you'll find in web videos, such as waddling like a penguin as you make laughing sounds. (Hey, it works!) "Doing laughter yoga with others has the biggest benefits," Briar asserts.

Watch a comedy tonight. Between Netflix, YouTube and free movies on cable TV, you don't have to leave the house to laugh. Pick something by a comic whom you've found hilarious in the past — whether it was Charlie Chaplin, Steve Martin or Chris Rock.

Clap along as you chant HO-HO-HA-HA-HA. Seriously. Just try it. Even better, rope your spouse, kids or a friend in. This exercise is designed to elicit some of the physical benefits of spontaneous laughter — whether you're in the mood or not. Once you start, you're bound to laugh for real, Briar says.

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