Media release | 6 March 2013
Old age and declining health no barrier to a happy social lifeAustralians in their 70s and 80s enjoy better social relationships and report higher satisfaction with their lives compared to people in their 50s, according to a study released today.
Despite being in poorer health and more likely to be living alone, people aged over 70 said they were less likely to feel socially isolated and, instead, had more companionship than their younger cohorts.
The findings were released in the National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre report Staying Connected: Social Engagement and Wellbeing Among Mature Age Australians.
National Seniors chief executive Michael O’Neill said the results were surprising.
“This older cohort is more likely to report that they socialise as much as they want to and they have all the friends they want or need, so overall the quality of their social relationships is higher than for younger people,” he said.
“Compared to those in their 50s and 60s, they also reported higher levels of being comfortable with their living standards and felt free to make decisions about how they live their lives.”
But the study raised some worrying concerns about the wellbeing of people aged in their 50s, O’Neill said.
“People in their 50s are not doing as well. They are more likely to feel isolated from others and more likely to feel a lack of companionship,” O’Neill said.
“Possible reasons for this include potential stressors of workforce participation or unemployment, sharing their household with children and the hours involved in caring for their elderly parents.”
The researchers surveyed 2,123 members of National Seniors Australia aged between 50 and 89 years.
Michael O’Neill is available for comment.
Media contact: Casey-Ann Seaniger 07 3233 9135
With 200,000 members Australia-wide, National Seniors is the consumer lobby for the over 50s. It is the fourth largest organisation of its type in the world.
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