How well are older people doing?

Age UK use Understanding Society to create an Index of Wellbeing in Later Life.


Age UK is using the Index to inform their policy and practical work on improving the lives of older people. Local branches of Age UK are using these early insights to plan how to target their support services at people at risk of low wellbeing. The Index has already been used successfully to inform a funding bid for services to offer creative and cultural activities to older people in Oxfordshire. There is also interest from local councils who want to understand wellbeing amongst older people in their area.

The charity has engaged members of the House of Lords keen to champion evidence-based actions to target resources and effort effectively. Age UK plan to use the Index to model what effects possible political and practical changes could have on wellbeing outcomes. 

Findings from the research

Data from Waves 1-4 of Understanding Society was used to create the Index, which is a summary measure of objective and subjective indicators grouped into domains of wellbeing. While most indicators contributed to wellbeing, those with the greatest impact were: creative and cultural participation (social domain) and physical activities (health domain). The indicators that had the largest negative impact on wellbeing were: having a diagnosed health condition and having a longstanding illness or disability (health domain).

"Understanding Society was chosen for the Index mainly for the number of people included in the sample, its representativeness, range of questions UK wide focus, and longitudinal nature. In addition, the longitudinal design of the Study means that the Index can be updated to track wellbeing over time.” Marcus Green, Senior Research Manager, Age UK

Further information

Further information on the research can be accessed via Age UK.

Download the case study: How well are older people doing?