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What's the ideal age? It might be older than you'd think

September 19, 2013

Americans' attitudes toward aging have changed considerably in recent years. Rather than focusing on winding down during retirement, today's older adults are more active than ever before, and results of a new Harris poll shed further light on these changing perceptions of getting older. Researchers found that Americans peg the "ideal age" at 50, which is 9 years older than it was just 10 years ago when respondents cited 41 as their ideal number.

The poll's revelation of the ideal age was not the only reason it is indicative of the changing view of senior living. Researchers found that younger respondents pegged their perfect age at a few years older than their age at the time of the survey - with those between 18 and 36 saying 37 is their ideal age. However, for boomers and seniors, they were content right where they were. For instance, those 68 and older said 67 was the ideal age. The big reason for the increase is because of the many different opportunities available to older adults, experts speculate. 

"You're young enough to be famous or start an organic farm and still have the muscle tone to work eight hours a day," psychologist Barbara Becker Holstein told NBC's Today. "You're old enough to have wisdom but young enough that your parents are still alive so you have a generational experience."

This isn't the first time that a study has touted the benefits of being a bit older. Research released earlier this year from the London School of Economics found that satisfaction with life peaks twice during the course of one's lifespan - once at 23 and then again at 69. The biggest reason for happiness among seniors, experts say, is that they are better equipped to handle disappointment and experience less frustration.