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The time of your life

Put aside the cliches about the “midlife crisis” and beyond, because life just keeps getting better.

  • Health
  • Read Time: 4 mins

You may consider yourself a “senior”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re too old to have a midlife crisis – not that it’s anything to worry about.

With many people living into their 90s, and an increasing number beyond that, it’s hard to pinpoint when we’ve reached “midlife”. That’s especially the case if you disregard the years before you even became an adult (and was that at 18, 21, or even later?).

As writer Ann Douglas says in Psychology Today, it happens at different times for different people.

“Midlife researchers tend to hedge their bets a little, pegging midlife as the years between 40 and 60, give or take a few.

“And increasingly, they’re concluding that chronological age isn’t necessarily the most helpful factor in deciding whether or not you’ve arrived at midlife, and that you’d be better off paying attention to the number and intensity of life transitions you’re experiencing.”

Those changes include having a child leave home (which is a later-in-life occurrence than it used to be), experiencing the death of a parent, and dealing with changes in the workplace.

And before we go too far down the track of equating the term “midlife crisis” with a balding, pot-bellied man driving a sportscar, it’s important to note that women often go through a similar stage of life. And not everybody runs off to buy toys to compensate for getting older.

Psychologist Karen Stollznow defines midlife as “a stressful time of emotional turmoil when people experience feelings of deep dissatisfaction and unhappiness with their lives. It’s a period of transition in life when some struggle with their identity and self-confidence.”

The good news here is that things really do get better: people often feel happiest when they are in their late 60s and 70s. This has been found in surveys involving more than 500,000 people in 70 countries.

Life-satisfaction research suggests relative happiness can be charted as a U shape across our lives. Youth and old age are periods of happiness; middle age not so much.

So, once you’ve done with the “crisis”, the only way is up.

One useful technique to help cope with a midlife crisis is to focus on what you have gained rather than what you think you have lost.

You should be looking forward, not backwards.

Tips include

  • Focus on yourself and how you can “refresh” your life

  • Learn new skills

  • Reconnect with friends and family

  • Make time for a healthy love life

  • Spend time outdoors

  • Stay active and adopt healthier habits. 

The key to happiness as we get older seems to be to remain optimistic and passionate about life and everything it can offer. 

If you are experiencing negative feelings and need somebody to talk to, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. 


Brett Debritz

Brett Debritz

Communications Specialist, National Seniors Australia

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