Do Things Really Get Better With Age?

A new study shows our self-esteem drops after age 60

A few things I’ve been looking forward to as I gaze ahead to my octogenarian years:

Grandkids with names like Skype Estella and Xio iPad.

Rocking a serious caftan.

Blogging for (old folks really will read it for the articles!)

Eating ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner BECAUSE I CAN…and not giving two farts about whether it spends a lifetime on my hips.

But now I fear I may not get to age as gracefully as I’d hoped. A new study shows that while self-esteem rises steadily as we age (good news for my triceps, which are beginning their slow march towards the earth at the sweet young age of 33), then starts dipping around retirement.

"Peaking at 60 doesn’t sound like anything I’m interested in," I mentally said to the researchers. "Surely my rock-solid best friendship-marriage will sustain me?" Um, no, I might as well melt my wedding ring down and save it to cap my dentures in four decades. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that while people of all ages in satisfying, supportive relationships tend to have higher self-esteem, we’ll still experience the same drop in self-esteem during old age as those people who eat dinner together but have nothing to say to each other besides, "Can you pass the salt substitute?"

So what made middle-agers relate to statements such as,  "At times I think I am no good at all" and "All in all, I am inclined to feel that I am a failure." "Midlife is a time of highly stable work, family and romantic relationships. People increasingly occupy positions of power and status, which might promote feelings of self-esteem,"said co-author Richard Robins, PhD, of the University of California, Davis. "In contrast, older adults may be experiencing a change in roles such as an empty nest, retirement and obsolete work skills in addition to declining health."

Wow, this is some serious Debbie Downer material here.

Maybe I just have age on the brain, but I saw Jane Fonda on Larry King (via, if I’m being totally honest. I normally only watch shows with the words "rock," "chef," "bad" or "runway" in them after 9 p.m.) and it seemed like perfect timing. Fonda spoke about breaking her past vow to never have any more plastic surgery, telling King, "I caved…I didn't want to lie about it. I feel so good, I'm so happy, and I didn't want to look tired and jowly any more…If I was really brave, then I would have not [had the surgery]....I wanted to not have to worry that I didn't look the way I felt."

I wish she wouldn’t be so hard on herself. So she had a little nip here, got tucked there. It’s her face, her body, her prerogative. She told King she purposefully left the wrinkles around her eyes and mouth alone because, "I like my crow's feet and laugh lines." Plus, she pointed out, she’s stayed fit and healthy…complete with new ceramic and titanium hip.

Looking for some reasons to keep your head up as the Pearly Gates come more and more into focus?

You could give birth to twins at 70.  

You could run marathons at 76.

You could strut the catwalk at 80.

You could water ski at 91. 

You could pound vodka shots at 129.

What will you do?

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