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German elderly feel ten years younger and wish to maintain lifelong independence, according to new Generali Old-Age Survey

German elderly feel ten years younger and wish to maintain lifelong independence, according to new Generali Old-Age Survey © Generali Deutschland

The group of 65 to 85-year-olds in Germany feel ten years younger on average than their actual age. The majority of them lead a very active, satisfying and varied life. They wish to maintain this life of self-determination for a lifetime if possible. Therefore most of them focus on the maintenance of health. These are the key findings of the first “Generali Old-Age Survey” conducted by the Polling Institute of Allensbach on behalf of the Generali Future Fund, an institution of Generali Deutschland.

The study also shows that the elderly in Germany consider their material life situation to be good and it is actually much better than the situation of the elderly 20 or 30 years ago. The vast majority of 65 to 85-year-olds have close ties with their families and well-established circles of friends and acquaintances. Most elderly people are on good terms with their children and provide them assistance and advice as well as financial support.

German seniors pursue as well activities outside the family. At the moment 45 percent of elderly people engage in social activities and are prepared to extend their commitment by up to six hours per week on average (currently four hours). In the representative study face-to-face interviews were held with about 2,000 persons from each of the two age groups – between 65 and 74, and between 75 and 85.

“As a survey on the life of elderly people in Germany which is unique in terms of design and scope, the Generali Old-Age Survey conveys a completely new picture of old age”, says Dietmar Meister, CEO of Generali Deutschland Holding. “If we manage to show what the lives, the ways of thinking and the motivations of the 65 to 85-year-old people are like, we will be able to provide impulses for urgently required social change. We actively take the challenges of demographic change also beyond our duty as an insurer.”

Among the 65 to 85-year-olds, 58 percent do not see themselves as old. Today the major part of the new generation of elderly people lead very active lives where the family, hobbies and also volunteer activities play an important role. The 65 to 85-year-olds pursue activities outside their homes on about five days per week on average, one out of three persons (32 percent) in this age group even leave their homes every day.

Due to feeling younger and their active lifestyle, the elderly people see a lot of positive sides to this period of their lives. To many of the 65 to 85-year-olds slowing down the rhythm of life is a major advantage of old age. A distinct desire for independence could be observed: “The strong desire for independence is very striking in this generation”, says Prof. Dr. Renate Köcher, managing director of the Polling Institute of Allensbach. “Preserving health and autonomy is the key issue – people want to maintain their health in order to stay independent.”

45 percent of people aged between 65 and 85 engage in social activities in the environment of the church, leisure, sports and cultural organisations, among others, during about four hours per week on average. Projected onto the basic total of all 65 to 85-year-olds, this comes to an expenditure of time of approximately 1.48 billion hours per year, which equals the working time of approximately 870,000 full-time workers. “We cannot deny that the requirements which the demographic change imposes on the social security system are increasing. But what we also cannot deny is the fact that elderly people can provide an amazing amount of support to the succeeding generations with their mental, emotional, time and oftentimes also financial resources,” says Prof. Dr. Andreas Kruse, Director of the Institute of Gerontology of the University of Heidelberg.

Visit this webpage for more information about the study. “Generali Old-Age Survey 2013 – The way of living, thinking and involvement of elderly people” is available in bookshops, published by Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag.