A new study shows that older people today have significantly better mental well-being than people of the same age three decades ago. The study focused on depressive symptoms and life satisfaction to highlight the differences.
The researchers from the Gerontology Research Center at the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä conducted a study on 794 people including 75- and 80-year-old men and women and compared the findings with the same-aged people who lived in the 1990s. The findings showed that depressive symptoms have reduced and older adults today are more satisfied with their lives. One of the reasons for differences was better perceived health and higher education of those born later, according to the University of Jyväskylä’s statement.
“In our previous comparisons, we found that older people today have significantly better physical and cognitive functioning at the same age compared to those born earlier,” says Professor Taina Rantanen from the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences said in the statement. “These new results complement these positive findings in terms of mental well-being.”
While the findings showed that the 75- and 80-year-olds are more satisfied with their lives to date, this difference was seen regarding the satisfaction with their current lives. Interestingly, 80-year-old men who lived in the 1990s were more satisfied with their current lives than 80-year-old men today.
"These men born in 1910 had lived through difficult times, which may explain their satisfaction with their current lives in the 1990s when many things were better than before," explains postdoctoral researcher Tiia Kekäläinen in the statement. As individuals adapt to their situation and living conditions, in the 1990s and today, most older adults reported being satisfied with their current lives.
Some of the reasons for better well-being of older adults today could be the medical advancements in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of many diseases. Moreover, there is better awareness and accessibility of medical care and medicines. Health initiatives such as mass vaccinations and the promotion of healthier lifestyles could be important contributors, according to Earth.com. However, socio-economic disparities exist and there is a need for improving healthcare access for older adults.