"You'll Always Wish You Started Sooner": Older People Are Sharing Little Things That Get Way More Drastic With Age

"You'll Always Wish You Started Sooner": Older People Are Sharing Little Things That Get Way More Drastic With Age

On family vacations when I was younger, I would bask in the heat of the sun while my mother would always lather up in sunscreen, wear a wide-brimmed hat, and sit under an umbrella. I didn't understand it at the time. But now that she's in her 60s and her skin is still flawless, I totally get it. I was too young to realize that my sun-worshipping would probably catch up with me later. Well, redditor u/SuckMySalami asked, "People in their 40s, what's something people in their 20s don't realize is going to affect them when they age?" Here's what they said.

Kathy Bates and Joey King are in bed, laughing together. Kathy is wearing a nightgown and headwrap, and Joey is in pajamas

1."Physical activity is crucial. Just because you aren't overweight does not mean you don't need regular exercise. The benefits go far beyond weight loss. Exercise maintains the health of your bones, joints, and internal organ systems. It could even help with slowing down the aging process itself."

Two people running on a road towards the horizon with the sun setting in the background
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2."Start using sun protection in your 20s or your skin may noticeably be affected in your 40s."

A person is on a sandy beach, squeezing sunscreen from a bottle into their hand
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3."If you’re a woman, probably perimenopause. We collectively think of menopause as being the 'big deal,' not realizing it’s a process and not realizing it’s an issue that (often) starts in our 40s."


4."Not wearing ear protection at concerts. Can confirm having tinnitus sucks."

A concert with people in the audience.
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5."It's been proven that if you keep exercising, you lose much less muscle mass as you age. In your 40s, it may not be so bad, but you'll notice muscle loss in your 60s, 70s, and 80s if you don't keep up exercise while you're young."


6."Even if you had perfect eyesight up until your 40s, be prepared for the possibility that you will have to begin wearing glasses."

A display showcasing a variety of eyeglasses with round and rectangular frames, neatly arranged on transparent shelves
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7."Some people are just made of titanium, and others aren't. And there's no way to know who is made of what. My friend's dad was a drug addict who is very healthy at 74. But I had a friend who was a healthy runner, and he had a heart attack at 35. Just because one person can binge drink and be healthy at 80 doesn't mean everyone can, and you won't know until it's too late."


8."Your hangovers get way, way more severe."

A dimly lit bar scene with a blurred person in the background, liquor bottles, a wine glass, and shot glasses containing lemon slices and a phone
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9."Saving for retirement. You'll always wish you had started sooner. There's a quote: 'The best time to start saving for retirement was ten years ago; the second best time is today.' For years, I told myself that I couldn't afford to save for retirement. The truth was I absolutely could, but I chose to spend that money on cheap food and nights out at the bar with friends. That being said, I don't regret making those choices when I was younger, but the point is there was always a little money here or there I could have been saving (and HAD I put that money into a retirement or brokerage account, I'd be in REALLY good shape right now)."

A person in a long-sleeve shirt uses a calculator with one hand and takes notes with the other, surrounded by documents on a desk
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10."People come and go. The longer you're around, the more come and the more go. If you don't develop some kind of thick skin, you're in for a rough ride."


11."Time. Nobody tells you how fast life gets once you enter the world of 'work.' You're moving at the same speed in high school as a rickety train on wooden tracks. The years just seem to crawl by. Once you reach college, you've just stepped onto a diesel-powered train. The first two years are slow, then speed noticeably picks up. Once you start in the workforce, you've stepped onto the high-speed Shinkansen. You look out the window, and the scenery is sometimes a blur. Where did ten years of life go? Where did 20 years go?"

People at work in an office
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12."Caring so much about what other people think of you was never worth it. You stop caring so much as you age because you've just had enough. It's very relaxing."


13."Not putting in the work to maintain relationships. Having friends in your 20s is accidental. But having friends in your 40s and later is a part-time job."

People raising wine glasses in a toast around a table with food and drinks. The image captures a festive, outdoor gathering. No identifiable individuals present
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14."That knee injury you think you recovered from will come back to haunt you."


15."Neglecting your dental health. Trust me, deciding to stop going to the dentist because your family no longer forces you to won't end well. That was not a smart choice I made way back when, and it affected me for years after. Honestly, it could have been much worse for me."

Person wearing a robe squeezing toothpaste onto a toothbrush
Sally Anscombe / Getty Images

16."Your online life is leaving a traceable trail, and you should probably be much more protective of what information you publicly share."


17."Emotional damage from childhood doesn't go away. In fact, it comes back with a vengeance."

A person sits on a couch wearing a short-sleeve shirt and jeans, hands clasped, showing multiple wristbands. Another person is partly visible in the foreground
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18."The importance of who you have children with. Are you buying a house? You can get out of it eventually. Marriage? You can get a divorce. Are you moving in together? You can always move out. But who do you have kids with? You're tied to that person you parent with forever. It is the most 'for better or worse' situation; people just breeze into it without thinking. Ahh, to be young and full of hormones again."

A man and woman encourage a baby to walk between them in a bright, cozy living room. Shelves with decorative items are in the background
Westend61 / Getty Images/Westend61

19."The physical consequences of sitting down for eight hours per day. I can barely tie my shoes."

Person meditating outdoors on a beach while sitting cross-legged on a yoga mat, with hands in a mudra (gesture) position. Nearby, vegetation and a sunrise can be seen
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20."If you're a woman especially, your bone density changes. Start a good weight routine to protect them."

A person in gym attire holds two dumbbells in a fitness facility, ready to perform an exercise
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What's something that affected you more as you got older than you didn't realize in your younger years? Tell us in the comments or add it to this anonymous form.