Lifestyle Health

Friday 27 April 2018

Older people 'value friends more'

Portrait of three mature women smiling
Portrait of three mature women smiling

The older you get the more you value your friends, a survey has found, as pensioners feel they are more part of their community than younger people.

Older people who felt they were a part of their local neighbourhood and valued their friendships were also more likely to be happier with their lives, a UK Office for National Statistics poll found.

But men valued their friends less than women, regardless of their age, the figures suggested.

Age UK called for more practical measures to make communities “age friendly” and boost happiness.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director general at Age UK, said: “We know that feeling you belong in a neighbourhood can have a positive effect on a person’s health and wellbeing.

“Older people say they value easy access to a Post Office or a bank, good local transport networks, public seating, safe and well-lit streets and public toilets.

“Having these things in place would make life better for older people and promote their wellbeing."

Some seven in 10 people aged 50 to 54 felt they were part of their neighbourhood, but this rose to more than four in five among those aged 70 or over, the ONS report on national well-being in older people’s neighbourhoods found.

This compared with a national average for everyone over 16 of just two in three.

Of those aged 50 or over who felt they were part of their neighbourhood, four in five were satisfied with their lives, compared with just half of those who did not.

The survey also showed friendships were valued more by women than men, with almost two in three women over 16 saying their local friends meant a lot to them, compared with just over half of men.

Overall, just three in five people aged over 16 said they valued having local friends, but this rose continually for the over 50s to more than four in five among the over-70s, the ONS survey of happiness found.

The figures also showed about four in five of over-50s who valued their friends were satisfied with their lives, compared with fewer than two in three of those who did not.

“Friends are part of a person’s support system and, unlike family, are chosen by the individual,” the ONS said.

“They may often give advice on decisions and are companions in life who share interests and can be confided in.”

Wesley Johnson

Online Editors

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