If you’re worried about getting older, here’s a cheering fact: You’re actually likely to get happier as you reach your later years.
New data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index finds that people over the age of 55 are routinely more content than the population at large. And, in some cases, the differences are fairly significant. Seniors in Delaware, for example, report 3.1% higher well-being than that state’s population as a whole.
The results are based on 173,656 interviews in all 50 states, with Gallup-Healthways conducting at least 5,000 interviews each day of last year (not all of those are with seniors). It asks respondents to consider wellbeing as composed of five elements, including “purpose” (“do you like what you do each day?”), “social” (“do you have supportive relationships in your life?”) and “physical” (“do you have enough energy to get things done daily?). Seniors reported higher wellbeing scores in all 50 states.
Across the five measures, Gallup-Healthways finds the happiest seniors in Hawaii, Montana, South Dakota, Alaska, and Iowa. The seniors with the lowest overall scores are in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma. People 55-plus report the greatest sense of purpose in New Mexico, the greatest social well-being in Florida, and the highest financial well-being in North Dakota. Hawaii comes top for the other two categories: “community” (“feeling safe and having pride in your community”) and physical.
“Older Americans express more satisfaction with their standard of living, worry less about money, and say they have enough money to do what they want to do–all at higher rates than their younger counterparts,” the report says. People aged 55+ tend to have better healthcare than younger people, and rates of obesity and depression actually tend to get lower as people get beyond the age of 64.
The results are in line with international rankings of happiness, which show that young and old people tend to be happiest, while the middle-aged are least happy. Perhaps there’s something to look forward to in old age after all.