Positive ageing

Having explored some of the research on ageing and the common challenges associated with getting older, how might we do things differently? How might we make our later life as good as it can possibly be?

Preparing for new priorities

We all know, or know of, people who are ageing well, in that they are still active, engaged, and continue to have a positive approach to life. What has made a difference for them?

Sarah Raposo and Laura Carstensen17 found that when people vividly envision their distant future, they are more motivated to adopt healthy behaviours, and thus age better. As outlined in the Introduction, when we identify and focus on what's working, other benefits often follow. Figure 3 shows how a positive approach towards ageing might influence what actually happens.

Inevitably things change as we age, and this includes our priorities. Getting qualifications and a good job is often a major focus for young adults, but as we pass midlife we may be more interested in

Positive ageing

Figure 3: Positive ageing

whether what we do every day has meaning and purpose. Caring for our relationships may become more important than putting in long hours at work, and we may begin to be more appreciative of the everyday things in life.


Who do you look up to as a role model for ageing ivell? What is it about them that you admire?

The older worker

Employment rates for older people vary significantly from country to country. The management consultancy PwC's 2018 Golden Age Index, which measures workforce participation in the OECD, shows that Iceland employs 84% of 55-64 year olds, followed by New Zealand (78%) and Sweden (76%). The United States is in 9th place and United Kingdom well below, in 21st place. The lowest ranked countries are Turkey (34%), Greece (38%), and Luxembourg (40%).

Occupational psychologist Nancy Doyle suggests replacing the traditional career ladder with a career 'pyramid', so that the skills and knowledge gained throughout our working lives can still be accessed as we age, but in different, less demanding ways. For instance, teachers might become exam-markers and A&E nurses might become community nurses. This also prevents the sudden, potentially stressful jolt from working full-time to not working at all, with all the adaptation this demands.


However old you are now, how might you plan for your later years to maximise your wellbeing?

How might you help others to age well?

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