CPC's Professor Asghar Zaidi has contributed to the development of a new Index of Wellbeing in Later Life in collaboration with Age UK, finding that taking part in social activities has the most direct influence on improving a person's wellbeing in later life. Activities such as; going to a cinema, museum or historical site; taking part in arts events; being a member of a social or sports club; or engaging in a community or voluntary group are all beneficial.
The new Index of Wellbeing in Later Life examines different aspects of people's lives in five key areas - social, personal, health, financial and environmental - analysing data from 15,000 people aged 60 and over, to measure the wellbeing of the UK's older population.
Overall it shows there is not one simple answer, rather a whole host of factors under each of the key areas that play an important part in contributing to a person's sense of wellbeing. Other factors found to have an influence include; having an open personality and being willing to try out new things; being physically active; having a good memory and thinking skills; and having a good social network and lots of warm relationships. Interestingly, the Index found that 'creative activities' had the most direct influence, with older people benefitting from activities such as dancing, playing a musical instrument, visiting museums, photography, singing, painting and writing.
Asghar, who developed the methodology behind the Index, says "We live in an extraordinary time with increasing numbers of us in the UK living longer than ever imagined before. On the one hand, many can celebrate living financially secure, active, engaged and healthy lives for longer, but we also know living longer exposes many other older people to huge vulnerabilities.
"The cost of looking after a rising number of older people raises serious concerns about the sustainability of current provisions of care, especially when there are competing claims on limited resources in the country. Age UK's Index of Wellbeing in Later Life provides authoritative new guidance on what matters most for a good life in old age and provides information on areas crucial to policymaking relating to the wellbeing and quality of life of older people in our communities."
Asghar is working within the changing life course strand of CPC, for which he has worked on the following project:
Understanding quality of life and well-being of older people: Case studies of China, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh