Good health, seeing friends and family and having enough money to be comfortable, are the things Scots rate as most important to ensuring a fulfilling life, according to a survey from Age Scotland.
The findings have been released as hundreds of older people gather in Perth today (Wednesday 19 November) for the Charity’s first national conference, which will explore the topic of wellbeing in later life and what can be done to improve it.
There are more older people in Scotland than ever before and this section of the population is growing at a faster rate than other demographics. But while we are living longer, Age Scotland’s conference, Later Life: Tae Mak it Worth Bein’, will ask whether we are living well and will explore what people actually want from later life.
The Charity’s survey of Scottish adults found that when asked to list three things that would help make life fulfilling, more than three-quarters (77 per cent) said being in good health, 63 per cent said seeing friends and family often and 52 per cent said having enough money to support themselves and do the things they enjoy.
When asked what was essential to helping you make the most of life, in addition to these staples of friends and family, good health enough money, people prioritised ‘having a sense of purpose’ (39 per cent), ‘holidays and having time to relax’ (37 per cent) and ‘being active and exercising’ (37 per cent).
Brian Sloan, Chief Executive of Age Scotland, said: “I’m sure we’d all agree that increasing life expectancy is a great thing. However we want to make sure that we’re not only living longer, but that we’re living well and are able to make the most of later life.
“Stereotypes of our older population as costly users of services, and of our changing population structure as a ‘demographic timebomb’, still prevail. While it’s true that later life can bring challenges, more so for some than others, too often we overlook the huge and growing contribution that older people make to our society.
“Increasingly people are seeing their later years as a time to travel, take up new pastimes, volunteer or continue in employment, but I don’t think the image of older people that many of us walk around with has kept pace with this. It’s time society re-evaluated its perception of later life and sees the potential of our older population, which is a result of lives lived, lessons learnt and mistakes made.”
When asked about what they were looking forward to in later life, 61 per cent of those surveyed said spending time with family and friends, 41 per cent said exploring and travelling, 40 per cent said ‘living life to the full as much as I can’, 35 per cent said taking up new hobbies and learning again, while a third (33 per cent) said ‘doing all the things I’ve never had time for’.²
Age Scotland’s conference today will hear from a range of speakers, including former footballer Jim Leishman, Scotland’s National Poet Liz Lochhead, and the University of Edinburgh’s Professor Ian Deary – an expert on how the brain ages – who will lead discussions around three key questions:
- What do we mean by well-being in later life?
- How do we ensure that the considerable resource and contribution that people in later life make to society is recognised and valued?
- What could we do to improve well-being in later life?