Midlife Crisis and "Seniorescence"

Midlife Crisis and old teenagers

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Seniors nowadays live longer and better. One must now be 75 years old to resemble sixty-year-olds in the 1950s, in terms of health, life expectancy and activity.

Seniors age well with the increase in life expectancy. Once they are fifty years old, they still have energy to spare and about thirty years ahead of them. Young seniors do not feel old and sometimes have difficulty accepting this new status they are supposed to acquire : a retired person spending his/her days on a couch watching TV, doing crossword puzzles and only going out when it’s time to go to the market place. Actually, an increasing number still work, others travel, and others enjoy their revenues and the fact that their children have left home.

Old Teenagers

The editor of the French blog Senior mais pas trop (Senior, but not that much) has described the phenomenon very well:

« A physique that may be unattractive, unbearable, an awareness of body changes. A heart that gets carried away by a new love, the feeling of not being understood, feeling misfits, questions, worries or even anxiety when faced with life decisions, with a new kind of independence […]. A face you do not recognize when looking at a picture of yourself: is that me, that decrepit face? […] If adolescence is the crossroad between childhood and adulthood, how should we call the transition between adulthood and old age? The term « seniorescence » is the most suitable. »

This phenomenon is not well known and takes young seniors by surprise. It is a period of questioning that usually lasts two years once retired. Young seniors need time to adapt to their new lifestyle: they need to rearrange their daily lives and sometimes their couples when finding themselves alone again under the same roof.

Midlife Crisis

Along with « seniorescence » comes the Midlife Crisis which is not necessarily the crisis you go through at forty, a period in which we realize almost half of our lifetime has passed and how we never got the chance to make our childhood dreams come true. With the increase in life expectancy, this crisis can take place later in our lives, in our 50s or 60s, after retiring. One needs to rearrange one’s daily life, get used to not working for a wage anymore and accepting the status of pensioner.

Sometimes, events experienced between the ages of forty and sixty years old are the ones that trigger the crisis: old age, parents’ death or children leaving home. The person then seeks a radical change in his/her life and sometimes in his/her marriage as well. This life stage can represent a total turnaround even within a solid relationship. Weariness, boredom, a need for adventure, there are multiple causes that make 50 and 60-year-olds divorce. There are as many divorces at the age of 60 as there are at the age of 30!

The Midlife Crisis phenomenon is distinctive of the Western culture according to a study made by Menon « Midlife Adulthood in Cultural Perspective », in Lanchman, Handbook of Midlife Development, John Wiley, 2001. In Japan or India, for example, it is rare to find people suffering because of the senior transition or having trouble adapting to retirement. Midlife crisis is in part caused by the worship of youth distinctive of our society.

Sources :
S comme SeniORs, il y a de l’or dans Senior, Ralph Hababou, éditions First, 2014

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