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The Happiness Equation: How To Be Happy In Old Age

Published on 13 August 2020, by Katie Avis-Riordan

A higher sense of wellbeing in later life is associated with being healthy, financially comfortable, and engaged in meaningful activities. But the index finds that there are almost three million older people in the UK who fall into the category of having a lower sense of wellbeing. These individuals usually follow this criteria:

- Very likely to live on their own
- Do not have a strong friendship base
- Largely disengaged from their local community
- Have a long-standing illness or disability
- Financially poor

What can we do to be happier in later life?

The index has provided 40 indicators of wellbeing in later life. Here are some of the key factors:

Active social life – whether this is going to a museum or cinema, or taking part in an organised walk in the country, social activity reduces isolation and loneliness which is very destructive for older people.

Who you live with – connecting with younger generations, being socially engaged and having good cognitive skills are determining factors in wellbeing in later life. Social interaction is ranked more important than health and money.

Caring for someone else – a higher intensity of caring for your partner or family member can have a negative impact while a lower intensity has a positive effect. Having said that, caring can give a sense of purpose and meaning.

Physical activity – keeping active is a big contributor in boosting wellbeing.

Positive attitude – being up for trying new things and having a positive view on engaging in life are important for mental health.

"Survival until a later age exposes people to vulnerabilities that can make the ingredients for a happy life a challenge to achieve," Professor of Social Sciences, Asghar Zaidi, wrote in the Independent. "As a society, we cannot slack off in acknowledging and responding to these challenges."

The most important thing for your wellbeing is being part of a social network of family, friends and community, more so than having good finances and health.

So it is now more important than ever to feel involved with your community. Why not try volunteering in your local area?


A state of mind that is positive, optimistic, courageous, and able to adapt and cope in flexible ways with life’s changes.

These people totally changed my life. They’ve given up distractions that make us do stupid things and instead focus on what’s important to them. To a person, they don’t worry about things that might happen. They worry when it happens, and even then they don’t worry. They just deal with it. At whatever age we are, we can choose to adapt to whatever happens. We have influence over whether we let things knock us out.

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