It's official life begins at 61!

Forget the myth that life begins at 50. Life really kicks off when we’re 61, according to a new report by Co-op Funeralcare and Co-op Legal Services.

Their research found people in their fifties are twice as likely (57 per cent) to be stressed and unhappy than those in their sixties and beyond (29 per cent) as they juggle caring for elderly parents with supporting children and grandchild, while still working.

4 out of 5 of adults in their 60s say they're happy

Improves with age

However it does get better with age. While 15 per cent of those in their fifties say they are unhappy, this is the case for just five per cent of adults over the age of 61, falling to just one per cent after 75. Most likely a symptom of having more time to visit friends, fulfil personal goals and more time to pursue hobbies, adults at 50-plus start to feel much more content after they turn 61. Four-fifths of adults in their sixties describe themselves as happy.

Women happier than men

Women over 50 are generally happier than men, however, when it comes to relationships, men are happier to have met their partner with almost three quarters (69 per cent) of men over 50 saying this is the case in comparison to just two thirds (62 per cent) of women. By the same token men consider getting married as a happy life achievement more than women. Women are much busier in their retirement than men as over a quarter (27 per cent) of women say they are busy in comparison to just a fifth (20 per cent) of men. Women have less weekly disposable income than men with £263 in comparison to men who have £353.

The good life

Our life’s achievements and regrets are key factors contributing to our happiness over 50, with relationships, careers, travel and our health themes running across both lists. The top three achievements for the over-50s are travelling, having children and getting married while the biggest regrets are relationships, putting on weight and spending too much time worrying about unimportant things.

Top ten achievements of the over-50s

  1. Travelling (76%)
  2. Having children (67%)
  3. Meeting their partner (65%)
  4. Seeing children grow up (65%)
  5. Getting married (62%)
  6. Buying a house (62%)
  7. Building strong friendships (57%)
  8. Having a grandchildren (46%)
  9. Having a successful career (40%)
  10. Seeing children get married (39%)

 Top ten regrets of the over-50s

  1. Regrets about their relationships (56%)
  2. Putting on weight (34%)
  3. Spending too much time worrying about what they’d now consider unimportant things (34%)
  4. Worrying too much about what others thought (21%)
  5. Wishing they’d told those closest to them how much they meant to them (19%)
  6. Looking after their health (17%)
  7. Not being able to say no (17%)
  8. Spending too much time at work (16%)
  9. Not following the career direction they wanted (15%)
  10. Spending enough time with their kids when they were growing up (13%)

The best is yet to come

Broadcaster, and psychotherapist Christine Webber, says: "It's often thought that the baby boomers have had a glorious existence in comparison to other generations, but this research highlights that for many this doesn’t hold true. Particularly as practicalities such as needing to pay the bills mean that many are more timid than they'd like to be.
“As the realisation that we aren't going to last forever begins to set in, it's important for people to be compassionate towards their past selves, replacing regrets with ambitions. After all, it’s quite possible to feel that life is half lived in your fifties, because it really is. Rather than pre-occupy themselves with regret, it's about time this was looked upon this as an opportunity, with the very best yet to come."

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