There is so much to look forward to as we age. You may have guessed this from the cheery disposition of some of the residents, patients, or clients that you work with. Longitudinal studies of happiness across the lifetime suggest that older adults are happier compared to folks across other parts of the life span. Check out Stanford psychologist, Laura Carstensen's, TED talk. Not only are older adults happier, they also experience less emotional fluctuation (Carstensen, Pasupathi, Mayr, & Nesselroade, 2000). One possible theory stems from the fact that older adults prune their social networks to include primarily people who they associate with positive emotions (Carstensen, et al., 2011). Colloquial knowledge also suggests that these key secure social networks are a component of healthy aging as evidenced by observational data collected by National Geographic's Dan Buettner while observing centenarians in Okinawa, Japan and their interaction with their moais, or tightly-knit social groups (2008).
Buettner, D. (2008). The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society.
Carstensen, L. L., Pasupathi, M., Mayr, U., & Nesselroade, J. R. (2000). Emotional experience in everyday life across the adult life span. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 79, 644–655.
Carstensen, L. L., Turan, B., Scheibe, S., Ram, N., Ersner-Herschfield, H., Samanez-Larkin, G. R.,...Nesselroade, J.R. (2011). Emotional experience improves with age: evidence based on over 10 years of experience sampling. Psychology and Aging, 26, 21-33.