Well-being: Young perspectives vs ageing perspectives

Apr 28, 2024
Source: Getty Images.

Young and ageing perspectives on well-being

Over the holidays I was reading my grandson’s year 11 textbook from 2023 on Health & Human Development: Youth Perspectives on the Meaning of Health and Wellbeing.

The concept of health and well-being means different things to people, depending on what stage they are at in life. It certainly is subjective as it is dependent on how people experience the quality of their lives, including how they feel about their lives and what they think about their circumstances.

During the research when young people were asked about certain high-value aspects it was family and friendship relationships that were most prominent. It highlighted the importance young people place on social health and well-being.

This came as a surprise as when I was in my early teens we didn’t articulate our thoughts and feelings as young ones do today. We were often told to be quiet, and do as we were told, and our opinions were squashed. It wasn’t about our social health and well-being but about being lucky to have food on our table and a safe place to live and sleep.

But I feel this is a positive for our young generation, which led me to ponder on what it meant at the other end of the spectrum i.e. getting into old age

Perspectives and priorities go through different stages with age

It was found some candidates thought that health was maintained by a good diet and little junk food. But as they got older >16, they said aspects such as physical exercise and good relationships with family and friends gave them a sense of well-being and feeling good. As their life’s experience grew their view became more holistic rather than one dimensional. I call this growing up or maturing.

In early primary school; their priorities are growing up and feeling safe. For young people 8-15 years; it was diet, nutrition, weight, healthy food and junk food. From 15-24 years; it is more about body image for healthy and wellbeing and regular physical activity. Some online profiles during this time can be influential on how they feel about themselves. Middle Adulthood; 40-64 years largely associates well-being with illness prevention as often it is a time when chronic diseases such as cardiovascular and cancers present themselves.

In later adulthood (65+) the stats for health and well-being are similar to middle adulthood i.e. illness prevention is a priority plus a person’s ability to live independently and with a degree of mobility. Our priorities are about lifestyle as lifestyle diseases are more prevalent as we age and checkups such as breast and prostrate checks are imperative.

Maintaining mental health

The importance of maintaining mental health and stimulation as people enter into retirement increases cognitive function and social health. Family relationships and going into grandparenting take on new incentives and give added meaning to life. They all contribute to an overall positive state of mind and well- being. Acquiring knowledge, and understanding through thought, experience and the senses are as important as ever for the ageing brain. Awareness seems to increase with age as does our area of focus change but feeling healthy and a sense of belonging is important no matter what our age.

Overall it appears the priorities on what it means for a sense of well-being between the young and old are not too dissimilar. Social health, well-being, family, and relationships are just as important for the younger generation as it is for the ageing population.

References: Jacaranda Key Concepts in VCE Health and Human Development, Sevenths Ed, Units 1&2 www.jacplus.com.au Research by Mission Australia 202, 26,000 participants, Meaning and Importance of Health & Wellbeing

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