Staying Connected

Social Engagement and Wellbeing Among Mature Age Australians

This National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre research report explores wellbeing amongst senior Australians.

The report, authored by researchers from the Australian National University, also examines how wellbeing differs between age groups and other demographic characteristics, and how it relates with a range of measures of social engagement.

Data for the research were sourced from the first wave of the national longitudinal survey Social Activity and Wellbeing of Older Australians, which surveyed over 2,000 members of National Seniors Australia aged 50-89 years. 

The report finds that older people (i.e., those aged 70-89 years) have the highest overall life satisfaction of those surveyed, as well as comfort with their standard of living and feelings of freedom about decisions regarding how they live their lives. This is despite having poorer self-reported health than younger counterparts.

Furthermore, the quality of their social interactions is important in explaining this cohort’s higher wellbeing. As an example, the authors note that this older age group, compared with people aged in their fifties, are more likely to state that they socialise as much as they want to and that they have all the friends they want or need. 

In contrast, the report identifies some of the reasons for lower average wellbeing of people aged in their fifties. These include potential stressors such as workforce participation, having multiple dependents, and caring responsibilities (for both children and parents). A lack of companionship was also more commonly cited by this age group than amongst people aged above 70-89 years. 

This research report is part of the ANU Social Networks and Ageing Project (SNAP). Further research from the SNAP project will explore online social connectedness amongst senior Australians.

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