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A View of the Golden Years: Younger Does Not Equate to Happier

Happy senior woman
You would think that most people might not look forward to passing the half-century mark, but recent research shows 82 percent of Americans over the age of 50 are happier than when they were younger.

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October 11, 2011

Seniors are more likely to feel the warmth of a positive attitude by hanging around the over-50 crowd than by getting in tune with the younger generation’s moods, according to two polls that measured happiness in America.

Q. My parents, as seniors, never seemed as if they were very happy people. My friends and I, who range in age from the middle 70s to early 80s, appear much more content. Do you think that’s my imagination?

No, it’s not your imagination. Two Harris polls confirm that younger does not equate to happier.

You would think that most people might not look forward to passing the half-century mark, but recent research by Harris Interactive shows 82 percent of Americans over the age of 50 are happier than when they were younger.

The polling for OurTime.com, also shows 72 percent are also more optimistic about their future happiness. The survey of those 50 and older also found that, compared with when they were younger, these adults have changed their views in the following ways:

  • 79 percent are more confident in what they want out of life.
  • 87 percent are more confident in their intelligence.
  • 91 percent are more confident as a judge of character.

In a Harris poll conducted four years earlier, seniors were by far the most likely group to say that they were “very satisfied” with the life they lead. In the poll, Harris called their oldest age group the “Matures” – people aged 62 and older.

Sixty-nine percent of this age group said they were very satisfied with life, while only 56 percent of all adults made this choice.

Harris combined two of the question’s choices – “very satisfied” and “somewhat satisfied” – to come up with a total percent of those satisfied with their lives. Interesting was the difference between age groups, which revealed a generational attitude shift.
The audience of “Echo Boomers” (those ages 18-30) was evenly split with 48 percent saying they were very satisfied and 47 percent who were somewhat satisfied. Matures (the senior group), on the other hand, overall appeared more content, with just over two-thirds (69 percent) saying they were very satisfied while just one-quarter (24 percent) somewhat satisfied with the life they are leading.

One reason that so many of today’s older Americans like you and your friends are content with their lives is that they remain active and vital as they age. There are many ways to do that, including continuing to contribute through volunteering and jobs such as caregiving.

The local Home Instead Senior Care® provides non-medical senior care and companionship to older adults, primarily in their homes. Many of the organization’s CAREGiversSM are seniors themselves who derive satisfaction from helping others.

For more on the poll, check out http://www.harrisinteractive.com/vault/HI-Harris-Poll-Happiness-Index-2011-06-22.pdf

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