Research in England shows that happiness may be the best medicine. When scientists at the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) looked at people over age 50 over a period of 10 years, they found that those who had extensive social involvement and enjoyed life the most were three times as likely to survive the decade than those who lived in grouchy loneliness.
They discovered that when your psychological state suffers, so do your body and health. In this study, people’s level of psychological well-being was a good predictor of future health problems like heart disease and disability.
The research showed:
- Social detachment is more common among individuals who never married or have been separated/divorced or widowed than members of couples.
- Men, those living alone and those living in rural areas are less likely to remain in regular contact with friends and family.
- Mobility problems are associated with a withdrawal from leisure activities and cultural engagement, as is losing access to transport.
- Women are more likely to become detached from leisure activities than men, but less likely to become detached from social networks; while widowed individuals are less likely to withdraw from leisure activities, cultural engagement and, in particular, social networks than those in a relationship.