New research on Ageing has found that quality of life worsens as people enter their sixties, but that it begins to drop much more rapidly in their seventies and eighties.
An 80-year-old’s quality of life deteriorates two and a half times faster than a 60-year-old’s, on average.
The Institute of Education, University of London, and the University of Manchester have studied information on more than 10,000 men and women aged over 50 who are part of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.
Several different indicators of well-being, including quality of life, symptoms of depression and how satisfied people said they were with their lives were studied.
Whilst the rapid decline can partly be explained by circumstances that are more common to old age, such as being widowed or having poor health.
Stephen Jivraj, lead author of the study, said: “Inequalities in health explain part of the story, but there remains an unexplained decline at the oldest ages. This is likely to be related to the realisation of one’s own mortality brought on by the onset of frailty and the loss of people around us in the later stages of life.”
He went on to say “Our findings show that old age is not a time when we will inevitably be unhappy, but we are likely to face major difficulties in maintaining our well-being in the final years of life.”
Despite having a poorer quality of life and more symptoms of depression than those in their fifties and sixties, people in their seventies and eighties were most likely to report being satisfied with their lives.