Older people feel poorer, less happy and less well than they did a year ago as the effects of the economic downturn take their toll, research shows.
By John Bingham, Social Affairs Editor
The study involving more than 10,000 people over the age of 50 found a marked deterioration in the quality of life of older people in the last year.
But despite the steady "corrosion" of living conditions, the survey found that people in their 70s were more likely to be optimistic than those in their 50s and 60s. The survey also showed that many older people have reacted to tough times by finding ways to help their children and grandchildren out financially.
The company carries out a wide-ranging poll of thousands of older people every three months asking detailed questions about everything from their finances to their sex lives.
A third (32%) of those polled in the first three months of this year reported poorer living standards than at the start of 2011. The finding translates into an overall rating of -14 of Saga’s quality of life barometer, which balances negative answers against positive responses.
The measure for happiness was also negative at -2.5, meaning that more people said they felt less happy than at the same time last year, and the measure for health produced a reading of -9.3 for the first part of this year.
But Saga noted that older people appeared to display more of a “grin and bear it” attitude than those immediately younger.
When asked about how worthwhile they felt what they did in their daily life were, those in their early 50s were 66 per cent satisfied but those in their late 60s and early 70s rated their feelings of worth at 70 per cent.
While Money worries came far ahead of crime or health in older people’s minds, many reacted to tough economic times with generosity.
When asked what they were doing in response to the rising cost of living, the second most popular response – cited by 32 per cent – was helping their children or grandchildren out financially.
The biggest response to hardship – cited by 45 per cent – was cutting back on non-essential spending.
Dr Ros Altmann, director general of Saga said: “Our findings show that these are generations that all of society can learn from, despite their economic difficulties they feel more positive with age.
“We are still a long way from reporting a ‘positive’ quality of life for the over 50s. Although there seems to have been a minor improvement over the last quarter, it’s too early to say whether this marks the start of a new trend towards true quality of life.”
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