Singapore: Happy older people live longer, according to a study by researchers, including one of Indian-origin.
The findings, published in the journal Age and Ageing, showed that the likelihood of dying due to any cause was 19 per cent lower for happy older people.
“The findings indicate that even small increments in happiness may be beneficial to older people’s longevity,” explained co-author Rahul Malhotra, Assistant Professor at the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore.
“Therefore individual-level activities as well as government policies and programmes that maintain or improve happiness or psychological well-being may contribute to a longer life among older people,” Malhotra added.
For the study, the research team utilised data of 4,478 participants of a nationally-representative survey to look at the association between happiness, assessed in the year 2009, and subsequent likelihood of dying due to any cause, until December 31 in 2015.
The survey was focused on individuals aged 60 years and older, living in Singapore.
Happiness was assessed by asking the survey participants how often in the past week they experienced the following: ‘I felt happy’, ‘I enjoyed life’ and ‘I felt hope about the future’.
Their responses were considered in two distinct ways; a ‘happiness score’, and a ‘binary happiness variable – Happy/Unhappy’. A wide range of demographics, lifestyle choices, health and social factors were accounted for in the analysis.
The team found that among happy older people, 15 per cent died until December 31,2015. In contrast, the corresponding proportion was higher, at 20 per cent, among unhappy older people.
Every increase of one point on the happiness score lowered the chance of dying due to any cause among participants by an additional nine per cent, the researchers said.