ELSA 50+ Health and Life: latest findings

Latest ELSA findings

Take part in recreational activities to fight dementia

Researchers from UCL’s Department of Behavioural Science and Health have looked at whether the ways in which people spend their free time can reduce the risk of dementia. They looked at data from over 8000 ELSA participants over a period of 15 years. Amongst married people, activities such as reading newspapers, having a hobby, and using a mobile phone were linked to a lower risk of dementia. But this was not the case for people who were single, divorced, or widowed. For women specifically, reading a newspaper was also associated with a lower risk of dementia. Whereas for men, using a mobile phone was linked to lower dementia risk. So, if you’re thinking of starting a new hobby or changing your habits, there is no time like the present!

Volunteering can improve wellbeing after retirement age

Researchers from the University of Manchester have looked at whether volunteering after retirement age can have an effect on wellbeing. They looked at data from over 3500 ELSA participants over a period of 2 years. People who took part in volunteering were overall more satisfied with their lives, had a better quality of life, and felt less depressed compared to people who did not volunteer. Volunteers who took part in a higher number of activities and who felt appreciated for their work were found to have the greatest improvements in wellbeing over the 2 years. So why not volunteer? You could help others and potentially help yourself!

The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the financial situation of people aged 50+

In 2020, ELSA researchers carried out two surveys online and by telephone to ask ELSA participants about how COVID-19 has affected their health, wellbeing, social lives, and financial situation. Researchers from The Institute for Fiscal Studies have since looked at the data to understand the impact of the pandemic on your financial situation. The results found that:

  • Nearly one in five participants said their overall financial situation was worse in June –July than before the coronavirus outbreak
  • People who were in paid work before the pandemic were twice as likely to say their financial situation was now worse, compared to people who were retired
  • 14% of retired participants were at least somewhat worried about their future financial situation, whereas this percentage rose to 38% for those who were in paid work before the pandemic

You can read more about the latest ELSA findings by visiting www.elsa-project.ac.uk/news or www.elsa-project.ac.uk/newsletters