A look at what makes older people happy, how this differs from younger people and what you can do to help your loved one stay contented in care.
When it comes to the question of "What makes older people happy?", there are plenty of misconceptions to contend with.
Many believe the common negative stereotypes about ageing that exist in western cultures, some of which link age with a decline in overall mood.
However, a wealth of research has dispelled these myths and shone light on the things that fill older people with happiness and joy.
What is the link between age and happiness?
A study involving participants from almost 150 countries identified a perceived fall in happiness between early adulthood and middle age.
However, respondents between the ages of 50-90 generally reported a steadily increasing quality of life. Researchers also discovered the factors contributing to older people’s happiness differ vastly to that of their younger counterparts.
Younger people tend to look for happiness in 'extraordinary experiences' – something outside the norm, such as travelling to a distant location. Older people are more likely to be content sharing 'ordinary experiences' with close friends and relatives.
This implies that arranging major events and experiences for your older loved one might not be the key to keeping them happy. Instead, the focus should be on peaceful, familiar activities that can be shared with loved ones and that reinforce a sense of independence.
Helping your loved one achieve happiness
With these findings in mind, let’s look at some factors that could boost the happiness of your loved one, and how a live-in care arrangement can support this:
1. Engagement with family, friends and the local community
Everyday things – like stopping in for tea or sitting in the garden – could be all that your loved one needs to feel happy, providing it gives them a chance to interact with the people they cherish.
Your loved one might also find happiness out in the local community, visiting old haunts or attending community events organised with older people in mind.
A live-in carer will effectively manage the home environment. This allows you to spend quality time with your loved one when visiting, and gives them more scope to engage in social activities.
Carers can also help your loved one prepare for social visits with friends or family, or travel to family or community events.
2. Independence and self-determination
The ability to decide what they do on a daily basis and carry out tasks with a sense of independence is also likely to underpin your loved one's happiness.
A live-in care team will ensure your loved one has scope to decide where they go, what activities they participate in, what meals they eat at what time and more.
We train our carers to support your loved one's abilities, taking care of the tasks they're no longer able to do, yet encouraging them to do what they're still capable of at the same time.
Happiness doesn't have to decline with age. Keep this research in mind and you can help your loved one achieve happiness for longer.
Find out more about the types of care approach that can help keep your loved one happy and engaged by calling on the friendly team at The Good Care Group.