Life Satisfaction Increases with Age, but Not Everywhere in the World
19 February 2015
Aged Care Reviews
A new study has indicated that satisfaction with life does increase, but not in every part of the world. The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs of Princeton University, as well as University College London and Stony Brook University, conducted the study. It showed the ways that life-satisfaction varies from region-to-region, in regard to how old people are.
Throughout English-speaking places around the world, it seems that people start to become less happy with their lives, as they become middle-aged. However, in contrast to many other parts of the world, this trend changes later in life. It increases as they become elderly, and this appears to be caused by living in richer regions.
In Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, this dissatisfaction with life does not go away as people move past middle-age. In fact, elderly residents of these regions reported particularly low levels of satisfaction. This is especially apparent when compared with the happiness that is reported by younger citizens in these parts around the world. Similarly, lower life satisfaction is found in Caribbean countries, as well as Latin America. While these places do not report as much of a decline in life satisfaction as the areas around Eastern Europe, there is still a notable trend. In sub-Saharan Africa, low life satisfaction is widely reported by people of all age groups.
Following economic ideas, this “dip” in happiness and well-being can be predicted in English-speaking countries, for middle-aged people. The researchers that created this study have suggested why the elderly in high-income countries might be happier. This includes regions like Australia, where healthcare is generally better than in much of the world. Aged health care in places like Australia do not just focus on physical health. It appears that mental well-being is an important part of life satisfaction.
Other countries that show similar findings include the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand. While the study does not seem hopeful for people entering middle-age, it shows that life can get better. Later age is one of the times when health problems can have the most impact on people. That certainly means that these findings are good news for all citizens of these countries. In addition, finding ways to use the study might take some stress away from the aged health care industry.
There are many ways to measure the quality of people’s lives. Older people in the English-speaking, high-income regions tend to stress less, and experience less frustration and worrying than middle-aged people in the same areas. In Latin America and Caribbean countries, there is a similar peak of stress and worry for middle-aged people, but this does not decrease as much. The biggest increase in poor life satisfaction occurs in Eastern European regions. While sub-Saharan African populations do not experience much of an increase in lacking life satisfaction, their overall dissatisfaction is higher throughout all age brackets.
There seems to be little difference for between men and women, no matter what the region of the world is. However, in the former Soviet Union, as well as Eastern European regions, elderly women generally have a lot more stress, worry, and physical discomfort. This is an interesting finding, since men in these areas often have worse health. This might be an indicator of how mental well-being can directly impact physical health.
The findings from this study show that people in charge of health care systems need to focus on psychological health, and not only physical illness. Evidently, there is some link between being happy and being healthy. Poor health can lead to a range of mental issues, and this can be a huge problem for the elderly community. Likewise, high satisfaction with life seems to actually fight against poor health.
Findings in studies like this will open up a whole new way of looking at health care. Things that used to be considered unnecessary and selfish, might actually be important for health. This includes having a good time, taking time for relaxation, and learning new skills just for fun. Of course, it is important to note that this study is not definite proof of the link between life-satisfaction and physical health. Increased research is necessary, and would hopefully show healthcare workers more ways to keep aged care residents healthy and happy.