A compendium of factsheets: wellbeing across the lifecourse: ageing well

Document type
Corporate author(s)
Great Britain. Department of Health
Department of Health
Date of publication
6 February 2014
Older Adults, Social Policy
Social welfare
Material type

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These factsheets give a flavour of some of the important issues and relationships between wellbeing and health throughout someone’s life. For health professionals, understanding the different parts of personal wellbeing may offer insights into how their own work fits into a wider context and how what they do can influence wellbeing. The evidence is largely from published, peer reviewed documents and each factsheet provides references for readers wishing to follow up the literature in more detail. The documents have all been peer reviewed by independent experts.

The key facts of this factsheet are: although advancing age is associated with physical and cognitive decline, wellbeing is consistently found to be higher in later life than among young or middle aged adults, however it subsequently is found to decline in the oldest old; affective, eudemonic, and evaluative wellbeing all predict future subjective health, suggesting that impaired wellbeing is not just a product of poor health, but it is also systematically associated with the development of poor health; the influence of social relationships on the risk of death are comparable to other established mortality risk factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption, and actually exceed the influence of physical activity and obesity; and survival over an average of more than nine years was associated with greater enjoyment of life - effects were large, with the risk of dying being around three times greater among individuals in the lowest (compared with the highest) third of enjoyment of life.