Are the golden years a real thing or a myth. If a myth, when are the closest thing to golden years

Someone I know who works in healthcare says all her clients tell her the concept of golden years is a myth. Chronic pain, disability, seeing your friends and family drop like flies, etc. I’ve heard the same thing from family members in this age bracket.

So are the concept of golden years (65+) a myth? Is there a period which truly is golden?

For me my 20s weren’t that bad, but I guess nothing really compares to the joys of childhood. No responsibility, you don’t understand how dangerous the world is yet, you haven’t been deeply damaged by life yet.

I’ve heard some other people say middle age are the true golden years. In your 40s and 50s you have a family, your career is paying off, you get to see the rewards for decades of hard work and your health is still fairly decent.

If you put off having kids for a while, you can have a nice period in your 30s as DINKs before kids take over your life (and your money)…

What, exactly, is the concept of golden years?

Many people manage to avoid those circumstances for some time after their 65th birthdays, actually.

For me, these years are golden. I don’t know how many I have left – 10? 20? They are all the more precious as time goes on.

And: I don’t have to go to work. So far my retirement finances are holding up just fine. I can sleep til noon and stay up all night if I want to. The best? Grandchildren, only a few blocks away. I have a six-year-old, an 18 month-old and a 2 1/2-month old. What more could anyone want?

My health is no worse than it’s been for a couple of decades. A couple of things are actually better than they were. Yeah, I cannot run, but as long as I’m mobile, and my hands and eyes hold out, I’m good.

Pretty much the same here, minus grandchildren. As long as your health is reasonably good and your finances hold out, life can be pretty damn sweet.

If you’re sick or poor, no matter how old you are, life can suck hard.

17-30 are the “Golden Years”. (Assuming you are single/no kids) All the rest is a fucking horrid saga.

I’d say this is the big issue.

At age 35, you can have all sorts of bad habits regarding food, lifestyle, exercise, etc and still be enjoying decent health. If you persist with these, by 65 they will have reliably caught up to you and your years will be far from golden.

Not for me, they weren’t.

Which I think just goes to show that there is no age or period of life that is universally “golden.” If you’re fortunate, you’ll have some “golden years”; but when in your lifetime they happen varies from person to person.

(Plus, whether or not your retirement-age years are “golden” or not is affected by, though certainly not completely determined by, how you chose to spend the preceding ones.)

I wouldn’t go back to my childhood or adolescent years for a million bucks.

I was always stressed over shit in my 20s.

My 30s have been great, though. And I’m looking forward to my 40s.

Just a WAG, but I think what constitutes the “golden years” depends on individual circumstances. I imagine for every person who pines over their wild youth, there’s someone else who likes the peace and quiet of old aged. For years I couldn’t imagine I’d ever get old. But now I kinda can’t wait to see how I’ll turn out. There are so many avenues I could go down. Am I gonna be the old bent-over lady in the applique sweater at Wednesday night bingo? Or am I going to be in a Roads Scholar brochure climbing mountains? Either way, I hope I’m happy. I also hope I have money. I’m fine with not having kids or a spouse. But I don’t want to be broke.

It’s the time when nothing can touch you. Wop, wop, wop.

The real question is at 65, can you change your ways and recapture your health after spending your middle ages leading a shitty lifestyle? I know in my 20s I could easily get fit by going to a gym for a few weeks, but what happens if you lead a shit lifestyle and then you have problems in your 60s? Can you still turn it around at that point?

I’ve never done any research on where the term came from, but I’ve thought that it might be a combination of things. Firstly, a lot of people don’t have to work any longer–so that’s “golden” in the sense of a diminishing of things you HAVE to do.

Also, many people have mortgages paid off, and all children are out of school, so they don’t have some of the bills that they used to have. Again, a diminishing list of responsibilities.

And then for people who were prudent and/or lucky, they now have a sufficient amount of money to last for the rest of their life, so they also have a diminishing of certain worries and concerns.

Now, I fully realize that many things are not fun–my grandma said, “Old age isn’t for sissies.” But looking at the ideal image of the senior years, I would love to be able to take things easy, look back on a full and fruitful life, enjoy grandchildren, etc.

A spot of googling suggests that the term emerged in the 1950s, and to me it screams “euphemism, coined for marketing purposes”.

Until comparatively recently, most people in the industrialised world worked until they physically no longer could, and then they became dependants of their own adult children, a state of affairs which generally did not last too long. Retirement, in other words, was not a condition to look forward to, or to be idealised. This changed as societies became more prosperous and developed mechanisms for socialising the cost of supporting non-productive retired workers - social security, pension funds, etc - and at the same time health and life expectancy improved. For the first time retired people were identified as a class to whom you could sell things - they were a growing class and they, or enough of them, had enough spending power to make marketing goods and services to them an attractive proposition. According to this site, the term was coined in 1959 for a marketing campaign for a retirement community. I don’t know how authoritative that is, though; this site says the term was used in a marketing campaign for Merrill Lynch investments - I’m guessing, investments aimed at the retired, or those contemplating retirement. I suspect the term didn’t in fact originate in the 1950s, but it was greatly popularised then by those who wanted to sell stuff to retirees, and who needed positive images and connotations to do so.

One of Laura Ingalls Wilders Little House on the Prairie novels in fact carries the title These Happy Golden Years. It deals with the protagonist’s late adolescence, courtship and marriage. It was published in 1943. Presumably, Wilder didn’t expect the title to suggest old age to her readers. So it’s possible the term existed to describe any particularly felicitous period in somebody’s life, and only later became specific to retirement years due to the efforts of Madison Avenue.

Carpe diem. Anyone who puts off happiness for their golden years is likely to be disappointed. The time after 65 can be great or it can be a disaster. And since we have no idea how many years we have left at any given time, you better make every damn day you’re alive a golden day.

I think the “golden years” probably span from retirement to the point at which your body starts giving up. For some people, those two things don’t even happen in the right order; for the luckier ones, that era can span a decade or more.

My parents, who are 66 and 70, and my in-laws, of similar age, seem to be in that zone: they are retired, they are financially comfortable and still fit and healthy enough to enjoy their freedom, plus they now have grandchildren to dote over.

I’m nearly 40 and I disagree that childhood is the happiest time. I was a lot happier in my 20s than in my childhood. In my twenties I had money and independence and could travel and see the world. Now I am married and have a child - I’m happy, but it’s the happiness of security and familiarity rather than “I can do what I want”. Money is tighter, and time is a lot tighter.

Well, Bowie’s Golden Years was 1975! :slight_smile:

No responsibility : wrong

Not understanding the danger of the world : wrong

Not damaged : wrong
Not everybody had a care-free childhood, and plenty had it way worse than mine.

And even amongst those who had a nice childhood, not everybody long for those years. No independance, being told what to do all the time, bored to death at school, etc… Plenty of small reasons not to find childhood the best time in life.
It’s dubious that we can find a general agreement, depending of each person experiences. But it seems to me that most people who tell me about the best period in their life mention their 30s, 40s or sometimes 50s. So, I guess the “golden years” are most often the middle of life (personnally, I’d rather pick my late 20s, but I think I’m an exception).

What age are they when they tell you this? (Any age that they haven’t reached yet is going to be underrepresented in your sample.)

And you have reasonable parents.

Different people’s best years happen at different times; I wouldn’t want to go back to childhood, adolescence or college. Others consider one of those their best times ever. My mother thinks the two years Dad was a factory manager were his best (they were when he made more money); I think they blew goats (he was being mobbed); he died at 63 so retirement definitely does not qualify as his best. His mother OTOH seemed to be living quite well during her own 60s, 70s and 80s: she had to get on blood thinners in her late 70s, but no pain, no diabetes, cholessaywhat… when she moved to an old folks’ home it was of her own volition (she arranged it herself and didn’t tell her children until she was told she had a room).