Psychological wellbeing: The concern for older adults
People’s self-reports of their psychological wellbeing are becoming a focus in public policy and in economics, and improving the wellbeing of the population is emerging as a key societal aspiration. Psychological wellbeing and health are closely related, and the association may become more important at older ages, if only because the prevalence of chronic illness increases with advancing age. As life expectancy increases and treatments for life-threatening disease become more effective, the issue of maintaining wellbeing at advanced ages is growing in importance. Studies of older people shows that assessment of quality of life are affected by the person’s state of health, but the frequent finding that average self-reported life evaluation in the population increases with age suggests that psychological wellbeing is affected by many factors other than health. These include material conditions, social and family relationships, social roles and activities, factors that also change with age. There is a growing research literature concluding that psychological wellbeing may even be a protective factor in health, reducing the risk of chronic physical illness and promoting longevity. It has also been argued that psychological wellbeing should be addressed in measures of health valuation, and be considered in health care resource allocation. This paper summarises the current state of evidence linking psychological wellbeing with health in an ageing population.