4 ‘Pillars of Happiness’ for Older Adults

New research points to these factors that predict joy and peace in an older adult’s daily life.

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Posted in , Jul 21, 2021

Happy aging

Three quarters of Americans report that the pandemic has inspired them to reconsider their priorities in life, dedicating themselves anew to their most cherished values, according to a new survey.

Are you among them? Especially for retirees and older adults, the uncertainty and disruption of the pandemic has opened many doors for self-reflection. 

The research, conducted by a partnership between Harris Poll, the consulting firm Age Wave, and the financial firm Edward Jones, points to four “pillars” that connect with happiness and peace of mind among retirees.

1)  Health
“At least I have my health,” goes the old chestnut. Whether you live with a chronic condition or are simply facing the realities of living in an aging body, overall health is a central predictor of happiness for older adults—as is each person’s attitude toward their health and wellness. One interesting finding from the survey was that despite the disproportionate risk of the COVID pandemic for older adults, a majority (61 percent) expressed a less anxious, more optimistic mindset, agreeing that the pandemic gave them “more appreciation for what makes life meaningful.”

2)  Family
“Having friends and family who care about me” was a top priority for more than 75 percent of respondents to the survey, and “having a positive impact on family and others” had the particular attention of retirees when asked how they define success. Especially after a year of unwelcome distance from family members, restoring connections and reinvigorating relationships are of paramount importance.

3)  Purpose
An interesting finding of the survey was that more adults (67 percent) named “spending time with loved ones” as a primary source of purpose than those (40 percent) who identified giving back to the community. Especially after a time of isolation and loneliness for so many, this highlights the primary importance of relationships in happiness.

4)  Finances
Health care costs, providing for future generations and other post-retirement financial anxieties are deeply embedded in retirees’ happiness. A majority (61 percent) said they wish they had prepared for their retirements more robustly. If you are a pre-retiree, this finding might inspire you to invest in your future in a new way.

Do these resonate with you as “pillars of happiness?”

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