Home / Resources & Guidance / Older Brits reveal the secrets to growing old happy
  • A new study of 1,000 Brits over 60 reveals the secrets to happiness in later life, with banishing boredom, striving for achievement and new friendships amongst the pearls of wisdom shared
  • Getting outdoors (79%), laughter (73%), and socialising (58%) are key ingredients to happiness for people over 60
  • However, arguments (64%), politics (22%) and DIY (30%) should be avoided
  • The advice comes as over two in five say their later years have been the happiest of their lives, with our early 80s being the “golden era” 

With nearly half of older Brits (43%) saying their later years have been the happiest of their lives, a new survey from leading care home provider and creator of the new Enriching Lives framework, Sanctuary Care, has uncovered the secrets to living later life with a smile.

Aside from maintaining a healthy lifestyle, the research reveals that happiness in later life is rooted in our sense of self and community. For over half (58%) of people in their 60s – 90s, socialising is key. A further 54% say having a purpose increases their wellbeing, while two-thirds (64%) need to feel secure in their home.

Digging further into the drivers of happiness, Sanctuary Care’s recent academic Enriching Lives research found that people need to achieve “six senses” to feel their lives are fulfilled, including security, belonging, continuity, purpose, achievement and significance.

Interestingly, those surveyed in their early 80s report being the happiest, with 52% saying later life has been the best time of their lives. Those within this “golden era” quote that many of the six senses are key including having hobbies (68%), continuing old passions (51%) and feeling they have a purpose (51%).

Furthermore, men are twice as likely to feel sex and intimacy are important factors to happiness, whereas women are more likely to focus on senses including having significance to others (43%) and achieving new things (32%).

When asked what advice they’d give to those worried about getting older, respondents were keen to share their pearls of wisdom: 

  • “Maintain and nurture your loving and friendly connections.”
  • “Make new friends wherever possible.”
  • “Refuse to take offence – it’ll hurt you more than them.”
  • “Make sure you have things lined up before you retire, such as charity work or spending time on hobbies, with family. Boredom is the enemy of happiness.”
  • “Keep a pet, encourage wildlife, grow plants. Be positive.”
  • “Follow your instincts, be true to yourself, be considerate of others.”
  • “Try and stay positive. If you have an off day, there is always tomorrow which will be better, and the sun will shine.”
  • “Remember your achievements but look to the future.”
  • “Treat every day as an opportunity to learn something new.”
  • “Do the things that make you happy regardless of what other people may think.”
  • “Don’t worry about things that you can’t change.”

Shedding light on the survey findings,Sir Muir Gray, former Chief Knowledge Officer to the NHS, author of Increase your Brainability‚Äîand Reduce your Risk of Dementia, and director of The Optimal Ageing Programme says: “With the busyness of our day-to-day routines, we tend to take certain aspects of life for granted in our younger years, such as our meaningful interactions with friends and family, feeling we are contributing to the wellbeing of others and having a sense of purpose.

“As we live longer, people often focus feelings of unhappiness on factors such as a reduced income without realising that they may be missing some of these underlying aspects that have fuelled the happiness in their lives for so long. 

“Many studies have shown the importance of purpose or “ikigai” a Japanese concept which means a “reason for being”. As the research has highlighted, reconnecting with these influences can make a significant difference to our quality of life. If we can all strive towards opportunities for achievement and purpose as we grow older, we can embrace an enriched and happy later life.”

Older Brits also shared guidance on what to avoid for happiness in later life, citing smoking (69%), arguments (64%), and DIY (30%). People even ignore politics (22%) to feel happier as they age.

Sarah Clarke Kuehn, Sanctuary Care Director who is leading the Enriching Lives Programmesays: “It’s wonderful to hear so many older people expressing strong feelings of happiness in later life. The results show that this isn’t achieved by simply maintaining the status quo, but that factors such as developing new relationships and passions and finding a renewed sense of purpose are essential as we grow older.    

“At Sanctuary Care we are dedicated to enriching the lives of all our residents and are using our recent research to better understand what it is that helps each individual in our homes to live their life with a smile and to support them in reaching these goals.” 

In light of the survey findings, the residents at Sanctuary Care, which has been delivering trusted care to older people for over 20 years, have shared their personal advice on growing old happy. 

Ron Bunce, 73,  a resident at Castlecroft Residential Care Home in Birmingham is an avid rugby fan and continues to lead his local rugby team to success. He says: “When it comes to happiness in later life, as the saying goes, ‘everyone needs a hobby’! For me, it’s rugby, which been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember, from battling it out on the pitch at the weekends as a boy to now. I’m working with James Williams, Chairman of the Juniors in my role as President of the Juniors of Kings Norton RFC. The competition, friendships and laughs with the team are hard to beat!” 

For more information on Sanctuary Care visit: www.sanctuary-care.co.uk