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Media Release: Young At Heart And Living Well – Study Shows Kiwis Get Better With Age

Happiness improves with age according to 1000 New Zealanders surveyed for Cigna Insurance’s 360 Wellbeing Score New Zealand report.

The Cigna 360 Wellbeing Survey has found New Zealanders aged over 60 feel far happier – and healthier – than their younger counterparts.

More than three quarters of those surveyed said they were in excellent or good health, citing diet and exercise as an important part of their lives.

“It was great to see how active and focused on wholefoods and healthy eating the older respondents were,” says Cigna NZ CEO Lance Walker.

“Some were still going to the gym or running on a regular basis and almost all reported a diet rich in fruit and vegetables. Their lifestyles are a model for us all.”

Despite the New Zealand retirement age sitting at 65, the survey found many respondents over 60 were still gainfully, and happily, employed.

“They are also young at heart. We found people’s definition of ‘old’ changes according to their age. Those in their early 20s defined 63 as old, whereas those over 60 considered old age started at 79.”

The Cigna 360 Wellbeing Survey is one of the world’s most comprehensive health and wellbeing surveys monitoring overall wellbeing across 11 countries and more than 15,000 people. It assesses a population’s health and wellbeing across five key areas: physical, social, family, financial and work.

In New Zealand, 1000 people from around the country were surveyed, with a 50/50 mix of men and women aged 25 and above. Of those surveyed, 125 were in the 60+ age category.

The survey found there were some issues that were entrenched in the New Zealand psyche regardless of age, in particular the importance of family, concern over the cost of living and financial planning, and the need for a work/life balance.

“The survey was an interesting exercise in gauging where New Zealanders stand internationally, and among different age groups. While we found most New Zealanders were more realistic in their beliefs about societal issues (such as obesity and stress) than those surveyed overseas, we were well off the mark when it came to assessing how many New Zealanders were over 65.

“Those surveyed believed 36% of our population was over the age of 65. Census 2013 figures show it is only 13%.

“However that age group is projected to grow to over 23% in the next 30 years,” Mr Walker says.

“Financial planning was another issue that transcended age with 53% of all respondents reporting worry and stress about finances. Of concern, just 20% of those aged over 60 reported they had sufficient money for retirement, suggesting financial planning is something that really needs to be looked at earlier.

“Perhaps the least surprising result in the survey in this age group was the response around smartphone addiction. Of the respondents who stated ‘they couldn’t live without their smart phone’, 90% were aged between 25 and 49, whereas just 2% were aged over 60,” says Mr Walker.

GrownUps General Manager Richard Poole agrees with the findings.

“Our members continually tell us that life is only just beginning. New Zealanders would rather look forward than in the rear vision mirror when it comes to living life – 50 is seen as halfway,” he says.

“There is no doubt that in many cases, it's about attitude versus anything to do with age, restricted only by our body's ability.”

Cigna 360 Wellbeing Survey Top insights – Respondents aged 60 and over:

  • 42% of those over 60 rated their overall health and wellbeing as excellent or very good, and a further 35% felt they were in good health. Just 2% reported poor health.
  • 96% believed spending time with their spouse was the most important or very important part of life, followed by their children (95%) and parents (82%).
  • Dairy was the most reported item in the fridge (98%) followed by fruit and vegetables (95%).
  • Almost half the participants reported having frozen foods or microwave meals in their fridge/freezer (45% compared to a total 37% across all ages).
  • Those over 60 were less likely to drink alcohol daily than other age groups (35% versus 31%).
  • The main social issue concerning those over 60 was the rising cost of healthcare (67% compared to 46% across all ages), perhaps unsurprisingly given they spent on average $700 in the previous 12 months on medical expenses.
  • Less than a fifth of all respondents perceived themselves as performing very well or better in being financially secure when unable to work (16%) and having sufficient money for retirement (17%). This was reflected in the 60+ age group with just 17% reporting they had financial security if they were unable to work, and 20% having sufficient money for retirement. Only a quarter of those over 60 believed they were performing well on their current financial situation.
  • Those in the workforce reported good relationships with their colleagues (96%) and their supervisors (85%), despite reporting that these issues were not a high priority (51% and 29% respectively).

About the Cigna 360° Wellbeing Score

The Cigna 360° Wellbeing Score is as an annual index which identifies and monitors the factors, motivations, perceptions and attitudes impacting on individual and regional, health, wellness and wellbeing. It is an independent study commissioned by Cigna and conducted by research company Ipsos. It includes participants from Hong Kong, China, Thailand, Turkey, India, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea, New Zealand, Spain and the UK. Data is collected online from a representative random sample of around 1000 people in each country, totalling 15,000 people. The New Zealand survey results provide insightful information that enables Cigna to better meet the needs of Kiwis with relevant products and service solutions at the various stages of their lives.