Living Well in the Golden Years
Study examines factors that affect quality of life in 'early old age'
FRIDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthScoutNews) -- Having friends you can confide in and being able to make choices about working or not working are two of the most important factors influencing quality of life in early old age, says a United Kingdom study.
Early old age is defined as the period between about 55 and 75 years old.
Researchers examined data on the childhood, adulthood and early old age of 282 people in different areas of Britain. They found the quality of life in early old age is less influenced by the past -- such as your father's job -- than by your present circumstances.
The study found that health and socioeconomic factors influence early old age quality of life. For example, affluent and healthy people have a better quality of life than those who are poor and sick. Affluent people in poor health and poor people in good health also have lower quality of life.
Having control over when to work has a major impact on quality of life in early old age. People who decide to retire early and then choose to work beyond the normal retirement age have better quality of life than people who aren't able to make those decisions for themselves.
That may include people who lose their job through layoffs or poor health or have to continue working past their expected retirement age due to financial problems.
The study also found the quality and density of a person's social network was more important than the number of people in that social network.
The neighborhood a person lives in can have a negative influence if a person can't escape from an area where he has to endure various nuisances or live in fear of crime.
The study was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.
Here's where you can learn more about the research into early old age quality of life.
SOURCE: Economic and Social Research Council, news release, Jan. 17, 2003
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