'Milestone ages' may trigger new perspectives on life
Clynt Garnham Lifestyle/Alamo

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‘Milestone ages’ may trigger new perspectives on life

Think having a midlife crisis is bad? New research says that you might go through one every 10 years—at least, if you consider a “crisis” to be a time of self-reflection. Psychologists writing this month in PLOS ONE have found that—among women—life satisfaction is more closely linked to objective measures of health at the “milestone ages,” of 30, 40, and 50, suggesting that people entering a new decade evaluate their lives differently than others. “If you’re turning 39, you throw a party or you go out for a beer. When you turn 40, you sort of have this mental checklist,” says Talya Miron-Shatz, a psychologist at Ono Academic College in Kiryat Ono, Israel, and lead author on the study. “You start asking questions about health and where you are in life.” Analyzing surveys that measure well-being, collected from 800 women in Columbus, the researchers say that women at milestone ages showed increased longer term thinking compared with their peers between decades. Their evidence? Rather than focusing on daily emotion, women at milestone ages were twice as likely to assess their overall happiness in terms of self-reported health. These self-reported health levels generally lined up with objective measures of health, like body mass index. Miron-Shatz cautions the findings are preliminary and don’t apply to everyone. But she says they could be useful in identifying ages at which women are more open to individualized or public health interventions.