“Aging Well” Is a Pipedream without a Focus on Loneliness and Financial Wellness

By Thierry Malleret, economist 

 A new report (“Long and happy lives – The future of wellbeing in an ageing society”) published by the Danish Happiness Research Institute sheds some interesting light on the way in which wellbeing in later life is being threatened by increasing rates of loneliness and mental health problems.

It is of particular interest insofar as it brings in the financial dimension, making it plain that without financial wellness, wellbeing is a pipedream.

The report uses a proprietary WALY (“Wellbeing Adjusted Life Years”) methodology to measure how over-50s in 18 European countries lose an aggregate 5.8 million good life years to moderate loneliness and 6.2 million life years to financial distress (only depression comes above with 6.4 million good life years lost).

Preparing for aging well is, therefore, a policy imperative with critical financial implications. In Denmark alone (where the research is mostly conducted), poor wellbeing in later life could cost up to 200,000 extra bed days in hospital per year.

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