Wellbeing and its Effects on Older Adults

January 27, 2023


It is a given that everybody wants a life that is comfortable, healthy, and happy. That’s the textbook definition of “well-being.” And the factors that contribute to well-being can vary from person to person.

According to the researchers at Gallup, Inc., there are five universal, interconnected elements that shape well-being, and these core elements transcend all countries and cultures. They are:

  1. Purpose (or Career) Well-being – You like what you do every day. This is not about having a paying job; it’s about being able to do something every day that allows you to use your strengths to accomplish something – and to enjoy the pride of accomplishment. “Purpose” is one of the greatest predictors of happiness, delivering optimism and hope. Interestingly, Gallup suggests the more hours worked, the greater the sense of pride that will be derived by that work!
  2. Social Connection/Well-being – You have meaningful relationships and friendships in your life. Gallup calls this “socializing” – time spent with friends or family members. And according to Gallup, a person needs at least six hours of socializing to have a “good day.” Hence, more contact with friends each day equates to greater well-being.
  3. Financial Well-being – You manage your money well. It’s more than the amount of income you earn; it has to do with how comfortable you are with your money – short-term and long-term. (As a side note, according to The New York Times, wealthy women live an average 33 disability-free years after the age of 50 – and 31 years for wealthy men.[1] )
  4. Physical Well-being – You have the energy to get things done. Physical well-being encompasses strength, stability, and function, empowering a person to be active and productive every day. Seniors who remain relatively unimpaired after 50, 60 or 70 are less likely to consider themselves “old” when compared to their peers. [2]
  5. Community Well-being – You like where you live and enjoy contributing to it. People are happier in their circumstances when they can engage with the community where they live, creating a sense satisfaction by helping others and instilling a pride of belonging.

When these five elements line up, a person’s quality-of-life thrives. According to Gallup, people with thriving well-being are healthier and happier. They are:

  • 36% more likely to report a full recovery following an illness, injury or hardship
  • Miss 41% less work due to poor health
  • More than twice as likely to say they “always adapt well to change”
  • 81% less likely to look for a new job.

A case can be made that well-being is the “holy grail” for aging. Older adults who are enjoying most if not all of these five elements of well-being generally live longer, happier lives.

How Can Marketers Help Seniors Secure Better Well-being?

Products and services that can demonstrably deliver on any of these five elements of well-being to older adults provide terrific marketing opportunities. As you consider the product or service you are selling to seniors, ask yourself these questions. Does your product or service:

  • Create opportunities for a senior to learn to do something interesting? Does it allow them to do it every day? This could be something like participating in a continuing education program, serving in a charitable organization, or simply reading a good book.
  • Encourage socializing? Does it provide a mechanism by which an older adult will feel validated by others? Does your product or service create an environment that brings older adults together, like packing boxes of groceries for the needy, or gaming equipment like golf clubs or Mahjong tiles?
  • Aid a senior’s management of his or her economic life? Can it help older adults manage their financial resources in a way that reduces fears or discomfort about having enough money to live out their retirement like they had planned? Clearly, there are great opportunities for financial planning services, reverse mortgage providers and the like.
  • Help seniors achieve better health, strength, stability, or function? Can it make a senior feel more energetic, or help them be more productive on a daily basis? Products and services offering fitness training, nutrition, or pain relief are well received by aging consumers. In fact, anything that promotes “healthy living” or a “healthy lifestyle” will attract their attention!
  • Encourage community-building? By employing your product or service, will a senior be able to deepen ties with others around him or her? This is where senior living communities and senior community centers excel. Furthermore, older adults can fill a lot of roles needed by not-for-profit organizations and other organizations providing volunteer opportunities.

Past the Accumulation-Stage of Life

There is a trend here. Older adults are generally past the stage of life where they are accumulating things. They more favorably respond to products and services that facilitate desired experiences. They want experiences that will contribute to their overall sense of well-being.

[1] New York Times; 2020

[2] Designing User Interfaces for an Aging Population; 2017