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Aging Well and Boomers

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Will you age better than an older loved one you care for -- or worse?

Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964) have plenty to learn from their elders about the experience of aging, says a fascinating piece in The Atlantic.

Caregivers, this means us: The average caregiver, at age 48, is at the tail end of the Baby Boom. Among those caring for someone over 65, the average caregiver age is 63, near the front end of the Boomer generation.

Here are some of the nuggets unearthed by psychologist Ellen Cole, 71, when she studied those among her peers -- the so-called "Silent Generation" born between the Depression and World War II -- who are aging well:

  1. Accept age.
    This may be tough for a generation dependent on Botox, hair dye, and plastic surgery. But content 70-somethings know to see the virtues getting older bestows, like patience, perspective, and wisdom.

  2. Don't retire.
    Live by the Japanese concept of Ikigai -- having a purpose you wake up to every morning. That may be a job, volunteer work, or family contributions -- like caregiving. It's a key principle of longevity seen in so-called "Blue Zones", where people have the highest life expectancies.

  3. Find a community and immerse in it.
    Losing family and friends to death or moves as you get older is inevitable. But loneliness is toxic, and aging doesn't have to be a lonely process.

More reason for Boomers to take note: We're already the most stressed and depressed generation, research shows. Cole's work suggests it's possible for things to get better with age.

See more Secrets to aging well, learn from the secrets of centenarians, or find support and friendship in our online support groups.