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The elderly are the happiest demographic, so what's their secret?


(NaturalNews) According to research from the Office for National Statistics, there are more than half a million people living in the U.K. over the age of 90. That number has tripled in the last 30 years, as the average lifespan continues to increase.

People are living longer than ever before in terms of linear years; however, just because people are breathing longer, doesn't always mean that they are happier and enjoying greater quality of life. Several factors affect the quality of one's aging experience.

Researchers in the U.K. are trying to understand what makes people happy as they age, and why happiness is greater for some but not for others. In a survey that included 300,000 U.K. adults, the researchers investigated happiness and life satisfaction among different age groups, while investigating basic trends that make life feel worthwhile to adults as they age.

In the survey, respondents of various age groups were asked to rate their level of happiness and anxiety for their current life situations, and were questioned on their feelings about what made their lives worthwhile. The looked at trends in ethnicity, marital status, location, work involvement and religion.

The researchers commented, "This shift towards an older population will impact on important policies and services including the labour market, pension provision, and health and social care demand. Understanding more about how the oldest age groups rate their personal well-being will help focus on issues that are fundamental to a good later life."

Social interaction and meaningful relationships key to seniors' happiness

The researchers found trends among the various age groups. The lowest levels of life satisfaction and the highest levels of anxiety were reported in 45 to 59-year-olds. The researchers found that middle aged adults struggle to balance work and family commitments, as they are stuck between caring for children and elderly parents at the same time. The researchers then found a sweet spot where happiness was most prevalent. Adults between 65 and 79 reported the happiest feelings and greatest life satisfaction. Happiness levels dropped off for adults 80 and older.

When adults reach the normal retirement age, happiness increases, because seniors feel freer to spend time on activities which promote their own well being. However, as they reach 80 and beyond, three major factors can either make or break their life satisfaction: poor health, isolation and experiencing feelings of loneliness. The elderly got the most satisfaction from life by simply having life purpose, keeping busy with activities and work that mattered to them, and cultivating meaningful social relationships.

Married couples reported higher levels of happiness

Another factor that greatly influenced happiness was marriage. Married couples had the highest levels of happiness, surpassing those who were single, widowed, divorced, or co-inhabiting.

Those who worked full time were happier than the unemployed, but neither was as happy as those who worked part-time. Retirees were generally happier than students.

In the category of religion, people were generally happier when they felt a sense of eternal purpose. Hindus, Christians and Sikhs were happier than those who followed no belief system.

In the realm of ethnicity, Chinese people were the least anxious and people of the Arab ethnicity were the most anxious. Women had more anxiety than men, but reported that their lives felt more meaningful.

People who lived in Northern Ireland were the happiest in all of the U.K. The location with the most unhappy people in the U.K., was in England.

Good health the greatest determining factor for preserving happiness into old age

The greatest common denominator for happiness among all age groups, especially in the elderly population, was having good health. In fact, those who were in good health reported life satisfaction (8.01 out of 10), nearly two times greater than those who were in poor health (4.91 out of 10).

In conclusion, the secrets to lifelong happiness include:

  • Taking care of one's own physical and mental health
  • Doing work that matters, but not over-working
  • Having faith and feeling connected to something greater than oneself
  • Being in a committed, loving marriage
  • Engaging in meaningful relationships
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