“Youth is wasted on the young!” This is something that tends to be said from the older generations to the younger. A good follow up question to this would be, “what is wasted on the old?”
There are many things that decline as a person ages past their 30’s. Physical prowess, energy levels, hairlines, mental processing speed, and memory all tend to decline as we age. While seniors can make meaningful improvements later in life, their performance capacity for many feats will not be what it was in their earlier years. Does anything get better as we age? Are there any feats that a senior can do better than a young adult?
Emotional regulation (our ability to consistently identify and align ourselves with the people/situations that make us happy) gets better as we age1. It appears as though through many years of experience we get better and better at predicting what will make us and keep us happy. Some may argue that this is the most important cognitive strength to have.
Additionally, reasoning skills get better as we age, particularly as they pertain to social conflicts2. It’s been shown that seniors are better suited to provide advice to people experiencing social challenges.
Research has demonstrated that as we age our ability to help ourselves and others gets better. If you feel as though these are very valuable and wise characteristics to possess, then perhaps you’ll agree that youth is wasted on the young like wisdom is wasted on the old.
Carstensen et al. Emotional Experience Improves With Age: Evidence Based on Over 10 Years of Experience Sampling. Psychol Aging. 2011 Mar; 26(1): 21–33.
Grossman et al. Reasoning about social conflicts improves into old age. PNAS 2010. 107;7246-7250