Here’s one potential benefit of getting older: It may make you happier.
A new study confirms previous analyses finding that older Americans are generally happier than their younger counterparts. The Gallup-Healthways survey, based on interviews with more than 115,000 people, found that Americans age 55 and older score better on five metrics of well-being: purpose (having goals and motivation), social (supportive relationships), financial (minimal money-related stress), community (liking where you live, feeling safe) and physical (good health and energy).
The study found that Americans over age 55 tend to have greater pride in their community than younger adults do. They’re also less likely to smoke, have better eating habits and more likely to have health insurance. While savings and income in retirement remain a big concern for many Americans, financial well-being scores actually improve after age 65.
Some seniors, of course, are doing better than others, and the survey found that well-being varied by state. For the second year in a row, Hawaii ranked first among the states for well-being of those age 55 and older. Arizona, North Dakota and New Hampshire were tied as the states with the second-happiest seniors. Older residents of the Granite State also have the highest well-being advantage relative to the general population.
In general, states with high levels of well-being for older residents tend to have high well-being scores for all residents. For the second year in a row, older residents of West Virginia reported the lowest well-being score of all the states, followed by Kentucky, Oklahoma and Ohio.