One of the things a lot of blogs like this one do is to romanticize the past. It's really common on some "looking back" blogs, and then accidental in others. I suppose its both here.
Be that as it may, it's really important, when looking back, to credit what was better, and some, maybe many, things really were, while at the same time being realistic about the past. A lot of things were pretty dicey, quite frankly, about any one historical era. And, as part of that, knowing something about the mindset of any one era is important when looking back at it as well.
One thing that stands out enormously between the past and the present is the state of medical care. We're so used to the type of medical care we now have, the availability of fairly effective medicines, that we can hardly grasp how that was once not the case. Some types of diseases, like asthma for example, have increased in the modern era, which is worrying, but at the same time many diseases, such as asthma, are treatable now and really weren't once. Asthma was darned near a death sentence for some up until the second half of the 20th Century. People didn't understand what caused it, and treatments for it were crude at best. The book Mornings On Horseback gives one of the best descriptions of the condition of asthma in any era, and gives a fantastic description of how young Theodore Roosevelt, an asthmatic, was treated for the condition as a child. When he went into an asthmatic attack, he was loaded into a buggy and required to smoke a cigar as the buggy went at high speed through the streets of New York. That sounds absurd now, but that's what they did.
Medicines have become so common, in fact, that there's debate about whether some treat real conditions or not. Behavior medicines are something that wouldn't even have been considered necessary up until maybe the 1960s when they really started to come in for the first time.
Serious injury and premature death is still with us, but not like it once was. According to something I read quite awhile back, in the 19th Century the majority of men in the US, by their 40s, lived with a chronic injury. I can believe it. Indeed, at age 50 I have some aches and pains that I know stem back from some old injury, and that most men endured that is pretty believable. When you look at photos of Americans in their 60s, or even 50s, that are 50 or more years old its almost shocking as they tend to look so old. In contrast, quite a few, but certainly not all, Americans in that age range today look much younger (although not all do). Men in their 40s, prior to 1950, generally have a much older appearance than men in their 40s do today.
Premature death in males was so common in the late 19th Century that the number of women who raised a child, for some time, as a single parent is about the same number who do today. The reasons were different, however. They had been married and their spouse was killed in some sort of an accident.
This isn't the only example of this, by any means. It's really common to see things like "those were a more peaceful time" or "that was a simpler time". For a lot of people, these statements weren't true at any one point in the past. Certainly immigrants living in densely packed crime ridden east coast ghettos weren't living a peaceful life. Members of the Irish diaspora, pretty much anywhere, faced a pretty rough life. Big populations of people from European and even the Middle East were on the move in the early part of the 20th Century for a reason.
Wars were pretty darned bad in various early eras as well. Contrary to what people want to believe, there are fewer and fewer wars on the entire planet every year. A human being is less likely to fight in a war now that any time in the history of civilization. Indeed, in certain earlier eras a male was practically guaranteed to fight in a war, and the loosing side's female population was guaranteed to receive the worst possible humiliating treatment. This sort of thing has resided to an all time low, which doesn't mean that it doesn't still happen.
All this isn't to say that there aren't some thing in the past that are better than now. There are, and people who like to maintain everything now is prefect are fooling themselves. Somethings that people take as progress are not, and some things in terms of social norms are actually swinging pendulum type deals which will reverse course and go in another direction, at some point. For certain occupations, those which are passing into history because of technology, this isn't a good time, if you occupy one of those occupations and like your job. For others, where this is an era of uncertainty, that's also true. For some classic occupations, like farmer, this is the roughest time imaginable for people in the Western world, as the dreams and aspirations of somebody not born into it are nearly unrealizable.
But, all in all, in looking at anyone era, we need to be careful about romanticizing it.