A new report has found that quality of life does not decline in line with age with social integration a positive factor influence on people over 50.
Findings by the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing at Trinity College Dublin (TILDA) released today are detailed in their report 'Wellbeing and Health in Ireland’s over 50s' for 2009 to 2016.
The report analyses health, quality of life, social engagement and living conditions and is the first from TILDA to focus on the ‘Change in life circumstances’ of participants since their first interview seven years ago.
The study found that quality of life doesn’t decline with age, but instead reaches its peak at age 68 and then starts to gradually decline.
Participants reporting the highest levels of social integration had a higher average quality of life score than those reporting lower levels of social integration.
Where people live had an impact on social cohesion, with 54% living in rural areas reporting high social cohesion compared to 18% living in Dublin city or county.
Friendships were an important influence on quality of life, and one third of women reported positive supportive friendships compared to 16% of men.
Over half of over 50s reported problematic housing conditions with the most prevalent issue being damp, mould or moisture.
Almost three quarters participate in active and social leisure activities each week.
Speaking on the release of the findings, Lead Academic, Professor Rose-Anne Kenny said: “The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) was designed to provide an evidence-base for addressing current and emerging issues associated with population ageing in Ireland across health, economic and social systems.
“This report provides evidence for high rates of volunteering amongst the over 50s and the benefits that volunteering, social engagement, supportive friendships and membership of organisations have on physical and mental health and well being. These social interactions suppress unwanted inflammation which is part of the ageing process.”
In TILDA, Quality of life continues to improve with age and more so if social engagement is strong, including for persons who have significant disabilities, who experience better quality of life and mental health if their relationships are strong.
"National policies targeted towards enhanced social engagement and a reduction in loneliness and unwanted isolation should enhance health and quality of life,” she said.