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Like many Americans, you may have bought into the preconceived stereotypes of aging. But the truth is, many seniors in the 21st century are living creative and dynamic lives. In fact, people of all ages are starting to view growing older through a positive lens, realizing it can be a time to recreate their life and pack it full of meaningful pursuits.

Nowadays, seniors who enjoy their careers often opt to continue working well past 65, while millions of others devote hours to volunteer work they feel passionate about. Still others go on cruises, take courses, create art or seek other challenges and adventures, like residents at our senior living communities. Incidentally, some of these seniors felt trepidation about downsizing or moving to senior living only to find that being freed from the hassles of home maintenance offered a whole new dimension to their lives.

The cure for loneliness

Although research shows older adults are more susceptible to social isolation than other age groups, many people in their 70s, 80s and beyond lead active and vital social lives, overcoming potential loneliness by getting involved in their community or their church or attending groups or programs for seniors.

Other older adults have dramatically expanded their social life by moving into a senior living community. It’s easy to build new connections when you live in a community that resembles a tightly-knit small town, busting the misconception that you can’t make friends once you’re “past a certain age.” And sometimes these friendships bud into romance, debunking another myth that older adults never date, never fall in love and certainly never get married.

The secret to health and happiness

Another misconception to erase from your mind is the one that says seniors are prone to depression and unhappiness, sooner or later turning into grumpy old man or cantankerous old women. Most older adults aren’t depressed most of the time, and, if they do experience a bout of depression, it can improve if treated, according to this article by a neuropsychologist specializing in geriatric neurological and psychiatric disorders at Stanford University Medical Center.

Research actually shows that seniors are among the happiest groups of people, with the odds of happiness increasing about five percent with every 10 years of age. A positive outlook not only plays a big role in your state of mind, it can also affect longevity. One study revealed seniors with positive self-perceptions of aging lived 7.5 years longer than those with a more negative outlook.

Keeping active and optimistic and staying connected to others are just a few of the ways you can stay dynamic and healthy for years to come.