RESEARCH: Wellbeing in later life

Playing the piano, singing, dancing and owning your own home boosts wellbeing in later life, new research suggests.

The Wellbeing Index report, from Age UK and the University of Southampton, found that while many factors combine to create wellbeing, keeping engaged in social and cultural activities, being financially secure and taking exercise helps people feel good as they age.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “The good news from our Index is that age need not be a barrier to wellbeing and that there are things we can all do to make life better for individual older people, for our older population as a whole and indeed for ourselves as we age.

“Being positive and open, willing to try out new things, and engaged with what’s going on around us turns out to be incredibly important in sustaining our wellbeing as we get older. Things like playing the piano, singing or dancing all seem to do a lot to help.”

Age need not be a barrier to wellbeing

The Wellbeing in Later Life Index analysed data from 15,000 people aged 60 and over and measured how people fared in different aspects of their lives under five key areas – social, personal, health, financial and environmental.

The results showed that taking part in creative activities such as the arts had the most direct influence in improving a person’s wellbeing in later life.

Activities included dancing, playing a musical instrument, visiting museums, photography, singing, painting and writing.

Being in good health, having an ‘open’ personality and having a large social network were also strong contributors to wellbeing.

Those in the top fifth for wellbeing were found to be four times more likely to be involved in social pursuits, such as being a member of a social or sports club, than those in the bottom fifth.

These individuals were also found to have considerably higher thinking skills in cognitive tests – such as numeracy and recalling words.

Other findings from the report suggest that only one out of five people in the top fifth lived alone, and while one in five cared for another person, they did so less intensely than those in the bottom fifth.

Some 85 per cent also owned their own home outright and had an average financial wealth of over £50,000.


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