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Happiness may peak in late 60s, study suggests

July 29, 2013

Happiness and physical well-being are closely linked, so results of a new study should come as good news to seniors. Researchers from Princeton University found that life satisfaction tends to peak at two ages - once at 23 and then again at 69. There could be any number of reasons behind the findings, but experts speculate it could be due to the fact that older adults are better equipped to cope with disappointment and setbacks. 

The findings, which were published by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, are based on an extensive analysis of more than 23,000 people who ranged in age from 17 to 85. Researchers relied on answers to a questionnaire that assessed how satisfied respondents felt about their lives at that moment and what they expected in the future. Study authors believe adults approaching senior living could take a cue from those who have already retired.

"People in their 50s could learn a little from the elderly, who generally feel less regret," said Dr. Hannes Schwandt. "They should try not to be frustrated with their unmet expectations, because they are probably not feeling much worse than their peers."

Of course, there are steps seniors can take to improve their outlook on life, and many of them are cornerstones of healthy aging. Specifically, staying socially active in retirement has proven to be one of the most effective ways for seniors to improve their mental health. In 2010, scientists at The Nordic School of Public Health performed an analysis of previously conducted studies and found that social activities were some of the best ways to prevent depressive symptoms in older adults.