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Research reveals the secret to a happier and healthier life

21 August 2015

60 is the new 20: New research reveals the secret to a happier and healthier life

New research has revealed the secret ingredients for living a happier, healthier life and why wellbeing amongst Kiwis increases with age.

The report, Sovereign Wellbeing of New Zealanders in later life, delves deeper into findings from the 2015 Sovereign Wellbeing Index. It found that Kiwis aged 55 years and over are 2.2 times more likely to be in the top wellbeing bracket than those aged 30 years and under, with the prevalence of wellbeing increasing with age.

Key contributors include positive relationships, autonomy, active community engagement and maintaining a clear sense of purpose whether employed or retired.

“Wellbeing can be achieved throughout all stages of life and certainly isn’t exclusive to our younger years, in fact this research shows that people in the 55-74 age group are more than twice as likely to have higher levels of wellbeing than those in their 20s,” says Professor Grant Schofield of AUT’s Human Potential Centre, who completed the research.

“The report reveals some encouraging insights into how wellbeing can be achieved in later life. It’s a time to stay active and engaged, embrace re-found freedom, ramp up social schedules, identify a clear sense of purpose and focus on healthy relationships that make you happy.”

Sovereign CEO Symon Brewis-Weston said the research would help to make New Zealand an even better place to live.

“When the Sovereign Wellbeing Index revealed that older New Zealanders had the highest levels of wellbeing in the country, we jumped at the opportunity to find out more. By identifying what makes some people thrive, especially in the later years, we can look for ways to improve the health of all Kiwis. And, as New Zealand’s largest life insurer, Sovereign has an important role to play in making that happen,” said Brewis-Weston.


• Two in five (41%) of 55-64 year olds and almost half (48%) of 65-74 year olds that meet socially with others at least once a week have optimal wellbeing.

• The frequency of social interactions increases with age; 44% of 55-64 year olds meet regularly with others compared with 54% of those aged 65-74 years. In both age groups, the prevalence of wellbeing was higher among those that were regularly connecting with others.

• Positive intimate relationships are associated with greater levels of wellbeing. The research showed that two-thirds of those in the 55-64 and 65-74 age group were married, with a greater proportion of married people being classified as having optimal wellbeing compared to those not married.

• Key to wellbeing in people aged 55-74 is whether they have the financial freedom, home ownership, social connections, time and good health to do the things they want to do. 60% of 65-74 year olds who reported high levels of autonomy were classified as having optimal wellbeing compared with 53% of the 55-64 year olds who rated their autonomy the same.

• Autonomy increases with age, with the proportion of 65-74 year olds reporting high levels of autonomy (52%) greater than those in 55-64 age bracket (36%).

• Volunteering increased with age - 29% of 55-64 year olds and 39% of 65-74 year olds regularly volunteer at least once a month. Of those that volunteered regularly, a third (38%) of 55-64 year olds and almost half (48%) of 65-74 year olds had optimal wellbeing.

• The report indicates a strong link between employment and wellbeing - 49% of older non-retirees in the 65-74 year olds age group are reported as having optimal wellbeing.

• For early retirees, a third (36%) of 55-64 olds have optimal wellbeing compared with 39% of retires aged 65-74 years.


© Scoop Media

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