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What is life like at age 40+?

Despite the popular myth those 40 years old marks the beginning of mental decline, researchers say that life does not get easier for healthy adults after 40. The average age at which women start becoming senile and men develop cognitive impairment is 49, according to new research by a team of psychologists at Cognitive Drug Research in England.

The study of the brain found that the speed with which our minds can process information goes down over time. The researchers studied routine abilities, such as the time needed to remember names and faces, the speed of reaction to situations, concentration on tasks, and decision-making.

In a new book, author David Shields catalogs the myriad ways that our bodies betray us. We go soft in the hands, lose our hearing and eyesight, slow down mentally, become susceptible to dementia, and even die younger than our parents. Handling that sort of thing gracefully is an important part of how we lead lives–and how we want the world to see us when we pass on.

A recent study found that people’s ideal age to live increases as they get older. For example, 18- to 24-year-olds have an ideal age of 27; 25- to 29-year-olds want to be 31; 40- to 49-year-olds want 40, and people over 64 want 59.

Your strength and coordination peak at 19, with an acceleration in ability that continues through your 20s and 30s. Your body is the most flexible during this period; joint function steadily declines after age 20. World-class sprinters are almost always in their late teens or early 20s. Your stamina peaks in your late 20s or early 30s; marathon records are invariably held by 25- to 35-year-olds.

By the time you reach your thirties, it’s time to put away childish things and go out into the world. Some say that the effective, moving, vitalizing work of the world is done between the ages of 25 and 40. This is a true statement. Creativity peaks in your 30s as you become increasingly confident in yourself as an individual and are better able to influence others when it matters most.

White blood cells, which attack and kill bacteria, viruses, and cancerous cells, have a decreased capacity with age. As we get older, our immune system becomes less capable of fighting infections and cancers. The walls of our large or medium arteries also get thicker leading to heart disease, but also diabetes, and increased risk for stroke. Every organ will eventually lose precious nutrients needed for its function in life.

The best part of being in your 40s? You finally understand where everybody else has been, why they are the way they are, and the impact their beliefs have on you. It’s exhilarating to see your friends, family, and colleagues grow older while your perspective gets stronger and steadier.

We live our days, and so we make our lives. Our decisions are powerful and impactful. You have the power to spend your days with joy in your heart, not fear or insecurity. You can choose love and peace over fear, frustration, and anger. You can choose a life of strength, security, and grace over chaos–because every day is an opportunity for change!

We’ve made it to our forties and beyond, yet we wouldn’t trade our beautiful skin for all the wrinkles. At this age, we love better, stand taller, and laugh louder. Real life has tempered our arrogance and fear, and this is the best version of us yet.

The reality of life at this age begins to create a deep awareness of many things. In the mid-’40s, you begin feeling aches and pains you’ve never felt before. Many in their 40s develop serious health issues which are nothing more than an accumulation of all the junk food and bad habits people had in their 20s/30s. You also realize in your 40s that most people don’t give a damn about you and that friends fall off as they marry or move on. The reality of life at this age creates a deep awareness of many things about ourselves and others that we can no longer ignore; it’s time for healing or changing whatever needs fixing in your life.

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