London: To keep the doctor away during golden years of your life, start participating in activities at social clubs and community centres regardless of health-related challenges, says a study. According to the researchers, valuing and pursuing social goals may contribute to well-being by boosting feelings of competence, concern for the next generation and belonging.
“The results indicate that living a socially active life and prioritising social goals are associated with higher late-life satisfaction and less severe declines toward the end of life,” said lead study author Denis Gerstorf from Humboldt University of Berlin in Germany.
The study, published in the journal Psychology and Aging, analysed approximately 30,000 adult residents in former West Germany from 1984 to 2013 and former East Germany from 1990 to 2013. The researchers compared well-being, participation in social activities, social goals and family goals during the last few years in life.
The findings showed that being socially active and having social goals were associated with higher well-being late in life but family goals were not. One particularly intriguing observation was that while low social participation and lack of social goals independently were associated with lower levels of well-being, when combined, they each magnified the other’s effect.
Similarly, investing one’s remaining physical and psychological resources into socially oriented-activities can be advantageous at a number of different levels — boosting well-being directly by carrying out joyful activities or indirectly by facilitating self-esteem and a sense of control or promoting physical and cognitive functioning. “The results indicate that social orientation is related to maintaining well-being for as long as possible into the very last years of life,” Wagner stated.