Around three-fourth of senior citizens living in Himachal Pradesh and its adjoining Union Territory of Chandigarh are highly satisfied with their lives, according to a nationwide survey on the health of the elderly.
The ratio of people aged 60 years and above with a high life satisfaction is 74.4 per cent in Chandigarh and 74.3 per cent in Himachal, which is among the highest in the country and much above the national average of 45.5 per cent, according to the Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI) Wave I, 2017-18, released by the Union health ministry last week. The survey covered more than 72,000 individuals and their spouses across the country.
The proportion of senior citizens reporting a ‘high level of life satisfaction’ was the highest in Gujarat (80.1 per cent) and Daman and Diu (77.5 per cent), the study found, followed by Chandigarh and Himachal.
The life satisfaction of the elderly was examined based on statements such as ‘In most ways, my life is close to ideal’, ‘so far, I have got the important things in life’ and ‘if I could live my life again, I would change almost nothing’. They were asked to give their responses in terms of varying degrees of agreement or disagreement to these statements, and their perceived level of satisfaction was then categorised as low, medium or high.
In North India, though Himachal and Chandigarh reported high levels of satisfaction, some of their neighbours fared poorly in this aspect. The proportion of people aged 60 and above who claimed a high satisfaction level in Jammu & Kashmir was 29 per cent, the lowest in the country. It was 33 per cent in Rajasthan, 39 per cent in Delhi, and 45 per cent in Haryana. Punjab and Uttarakhand fared better than the national average with around 54 per cent each.
Among people aged 45 to 59 years, Himachal reported the highest ratio of people reporting a high life satisfaction, ie 76.8 per cent, followed by Gujarat (72.4 per cent). The hill state also had the least per centage of older adults reporting a low level of life satisfaction – only 4.9 per cent of people aged 45-59 years and 7.4 per cent of people aged 60 years and above reported a low level of life satisfaction here.
The study found that higher incidences of low satisfaction in the elderly is recorded among those who are living alone and those who are divorced, separated or deserted. High life satisfaction also increased from the poorest to the richest households and with increasing level of education, it said.
“Greater life satisfaction is associated with better physical and mental health outcomes and longevity. Thus, it can serve as a universal indicator of successful ageing,” stated the survey report. It said that increasing longevity and falling fertility rate has led to a dramatic increase in the population of the elderly in India.
Being a long-period study, LASI aims to follow the representative sample of older adults every two years for the next quarter century.