Life Satisfaction Among Older People: Definition & Contributing Factors

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  • 0:01 Life Satisfaction
  • 1:40 Lifetime Satisfaction
  • 4:27 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Devin Kowalczyk

Devin has taught psychology and has a master's degree in clinical forensic psychology. He is working on his PhD.

In this lesson, we will discuss what life satisfaction is and what contributes to it both positively and negatively. We also look at how these influences come and go with age.

Life Satisfaction

Oh, hello, welcome to my hot tub. I'm here to talk to you about what life satisfaction is among older people. While I am not an older person, as you can see by my hot tub, I am still very satisfied.

Life satisfaction is a subjective reflection of one's overall well-being. Let's break down what this means, since it sounds fairly complicated. Life satisfaction is subjective, meaning that it is entirely based on one's perceived life. You can be the richest man or woman in the world and people can think you're happy when you really aren't. Think about Batman/Bruce Wayne or Iron Man/Tony Stark. Both are wealthy and should be happy, but deep down they struggle with inner demons.

Life satisfaction is entirely based on one's subjective reflection, so it is whatever the individual chooses to focus on. If my reflection focuses on piety and religiousness, and yours does not, that's okay because it's our own subjective reflection. Each person must determine what elements they hold dear and what value they are assigned. For some people, wealth is part of their happiness. For others, family does not mean much for their satisfaction.

The last part is one's overall well-being, which is basically 'Are you happy with your subjective reflection?' This is just an accumulation of all the previous parts and is basically a thumbs up or a thumbs down. That is the extremely long description of what life satisfaction is. Let's focus on ways to maintain or improve it as we age.

Lifetime Satisfaction

Interestingly, a study by Brendan Baird, Richard Lucas and M. Donnellan in 2011 indicates that large life satisfaction increases occur in the 40s to early 70s. That is good, but we must also know that steep decreases in life satisfaction occur in those older than 70. Let's explore those changes.

One of the biggest contributors to life satisfaction is health, which is a positive physical and mental status, and not just the absence of disease or disorder. You have to feel good in your skin. If you are sick, beaten down or just feeling crummy, then satisfaction is going to drop with it. This is likely one of the primary reasons life satisfaction drops in the 70s and continues to drop after that. The body begins to break down, meaning there are more physical ailments.

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