Older means happier: Most over-50s are content and their lives will get even better in 20 years

In this age of austerity you might think the older generation would be depressed by the prospect of working longer and retiring on a smaller pension.


The Daily Mail reports that not a bit of it. Far from being down in the mouth, the over-50s are feeling healthy, happy and in good spirits about their financial futures, according to a survey.

And the older you get the happier you get, it seems. Around 65 per cent of those  in their 50s said they were very happy or quite content, but this rose to 75 per cent for those in their 60s and 76 per cent for those in their 70s. The survey shows almost one in four of those questioned said they were ‘very happy’ and 50 per cent said they were ‘quite contented.’ This compared to just 2 per cent who admitted to being ‘very unhappy.’ More than three out of four said they were in ‘robust good health’ or ‘generally healthy.’ And the single respondent over the age of 100 reported being in ‘robust good health’ and ‘quite contented.’ The survey for the 50+ Show for the ‘active over 50s’ at London’s Olympia this month questioned more than 1,000 Britons in the age range. Among men, one in three said they were confused about their financial future and 19 per cent said they were happy.

Women were far more optimistic with 43 per cent being ‘happy’ and around 30 per cent confused. When thinking about retirement, men and women in their 60s rank, in order of importance, leisure time, health, family, new beginnings, finance and companionship. When thinking about retirement only 1 per cent of women in their 60s consider sex, while for men 3 per cent think of sex. Both groups think more of food and infirmity. Around one third of the post-war ‘Baby Boomers’ believed they had worked hard and deserved a comfortable retirement. However, there was universal concern about the ability to pay for their care in old age. A total of 77 per cent of those in their 50s were slightly or very concerned about their ability to pay for their own care, while this increased to 79 cent for those in their 60s and 83 per cent for those in their 70s.

Dr Robert McCaffrey, author of the study, said: ‘Taken as a whole we see that there is generally agreement between the sexes about what is important in retirement, with leisure time being most important, followed by a focus on health. ‘It is significant that many people – of all ages – feel that retirement is a time for new beginnings.’ He said the results indicated that ‘retirement is something that the majority of people are looking forward to or are already enjoying’. Meanwhile researchers believe the saying ‘You’re only as old as you feel’ could be true. Scientists say that those who age best do so because they have a light-hearted, optimistic outlook.

The researchers, from Hamburg University in Germany, presented young and elderly adults with pictures of happy, sad, fearful or neutral faces to study. When participants were told they could relax, researchers noted that the elderly subjects were much more engaged by a happy face. By scanning participants’ brains they discovered increased activity in the part that controls emotions. High levels of activity in this area are associated with good mental health. The study’s authors said: ‘This is another clue to how the brain contributes to this age-related shift in priorities and makes ageing successfully sound so simple – use your brain to focus on the positive.’

(Article source: Daily Mail)

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