ELSA 50+ Health and Life

We're carrying out this research to find out more about the lives of people in this influential age group.

As the population in England is ageing adults above the age of 50 are increasing by the year. We're carrying out this research to find out more about the lives of people in this influential age group.

About the study

ELSA is unique. We are the only major study in England talking to people from 50,
right up to 100 years old and beyond, at the same time. We go back to the same people every few years, to help us understand in detail how things are changing for people in this age group.

It is funded by a number of Government departments including the Department of Health and Social Care, Department for Transport, the Department for Work and Pensions and the National Institute on Aging in the United States.

Reports analysing each new wave of data are published on the ELSA project website. The data is also used by other researchers and academics to write journal articles, which you can also find on the ELSA project website.

Make your voice heard

People aged 50 and over account for half of the nation's spending and three quarters of the nation's wealth, so it’s important the Government listen to your opinions and experiences.

Change over time

We’d like to find out how your life is changing. This allows us to collect really useful information about changes in your health, social life, finances and relationships.

Be part of a bigger picture 

ELSA isn’t the only study of people aged 50 and over, there are others in America, Europe, India and China. We hope you take part in ELSA; if you do, you’ll be contributing to an international effort to understand later life and what it means for people. 

Meet the ELSA team

A number of organisations work together to run ELSA and analyse the information you give us. As well as NatCen, they are:

LSA helps to build a picture of ageing in England. Government, charities, and academics use ELSA data when thinking about policies and initiatives for people aged 50 and over. This includes things like work, pensions, and healthcare which could affect you and your family.

Why take part?

A token of our appreciation

As a thank you for taking part, we'll give you a £20 gift card which you can use at a range of high street shops.

How ELSA has made a difference

Staying sharp

ELSA discovered that smoking, being overweight and having high blood pressure aren’t just bad for your physical health. They also affect how sharp your mind is in later life. Organisations like Alzheimer’s Research UK are using this information to support their campaigning work.

Don’t worry, be happy

Data from ELSA has shown that simply enjoying life can have a positive effect on life expectancy.

A little time to make a big difference

It’s easy to say no to our interviewers, but we hope you don’t. We’re not asking for money, just that you spare a little time to share your thoughts and opinions. We know your time is precious, but our work really does make a difference. We help government and charities to make the right decisions about the big issues.

Help us understand how the world's population is ageing 

Our findings from ELSA are often compared against the results of similar studies elsewhere in the world, such as ChinaEurope and North America.

ELSA 50+ Memory and Thinking

How does our memory and thinking change as we get older?

ELSA 50+ Memory and Thinking is a special additional part of ELSA 50+ Health and Life, looking at how people’s memory and thinking changes as they get older.

Some ELSA participants aged 65 and over will be invited to take part in this interview in 2023

Read more.

Why have I been chosen?

Why we’ve gotten in touch with you

You’ve been selected to take part in ELSA 50+ Health and Life because either you’ve already taken part in ELSA, or because you've taken part in the Health Survey for England and at the time, you kindly agreed to us contacting you again.

The great thing about interviewing the same people again is that we can link to information collected already to get even more value out of the survey.

Even if you've been asked to take part in the past and have said no, we'd love you to take part now.

Why you’re so important to us

You can’t be replaced by anyone else, as this would bias the results and we need to speak to as many people as possible in order to have enough information to make the survey meaningful.

We want to hear from everyone

It’s really important to us and our funders and collaborators that our research represents the views of everyone aged 50 and over living in England.

You might be retired, unemployed or still working nine to five. You could live alone or have a large family. You might be struggling financially or comfortably off. You could be feeling fit and healthy or dealing with health problems.

Whatever your situation your experiences are important to us.

What's involved?

Interviewer contact

Once you have received a letter from us, one of our interviewers will telephone you to invite you to take part and, if you agree, arrange a convenient time to do the interview.

We are not able to visit you in person at the moment so we would like to carry out the interview via video call. We understand that you may be busy, so we’ll organise the interview at a time that suits you.

The interview

Your interviewer will ask you about a range of topics, such as the activities you enjoy, your financial situation and pension arrangements, your health and any work you do.

We will also ask you to update information you gave us last time you were interviewed, to see if and how your life has changed.

And don’t worry – you don’t have to answer any questions you don’t want to, we can just skip on to the next one.

Paper questionnaire

In addition to the video interview we will send you a paper questionnaire to fill in and return to us, in a prepaid return envelope.

No need to prepare

There’s no need to prepare for the interview. You don’t need any special knowledge, we just want to ask you some general questions about your daily life. Most people agree to be interviewed and enjoy taking part.

ELSA W10 Showcards

Click here to download the showcards (pdf).

Latest news and findings

Discover the latest findings and what the ELSA team is up to. 

Read more.


In this privacy notice, we explain the legal basis for data processing, who will have access to your personal data, how your data will be used, stored and deleted and who you can contact with a query or a complaint.

Read more.

Linking data 

Click here for more information about data we would like to link to your questionnaire answers.

Activity monitors 

Some of you will be asked if you are willing to wear an activity monitor continuously for 8 days and nights to monitor your physical activity.

Physical activity is known to affect physical and mental health in many ways. However, it can be hard to measure accurately, and many studies rely on asking people to remember the amount of time they spent doing different activities. Information collected by the activity monitors will help researchers to better understand how physical activity affects health.

The monitor is worn like a watch and records body movements during normal daily activities, like standing, walking or running. It also captures inactive periods such as time spent sitting and sleeping.

We would like participants to wear the monitor for 8 days continuously, including at night. The monitor is waterproof so can be worn in the shower, bath and whilst swimming. It does not have GPS technology or a camera and cannot track your whereabouts.

Once the monitor has been returned, we will send you feedback about your physical activity during the 8 days and nights.

The interviewer will explain more about the monitor and answer any questions you may have.

Have you been asked to do the interview on behalf of someone else?

If someone has been selected to take part in the survey but is unable to do the interview, you may have been asked to complete the interview on their behalf.

Usually they will have asked you to do this for them, but if they aren't able to do this we may ask you to assess whether the person would wish to take part in the study if they were able to.

Every person we invite to take part in ELSA is really important, including people who aren't able to take part on their own.