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Unhappy women smash myth of grumpy old Victor Meldrews

Men and women drift apart in happiness levels in their 40s with gap widening by 65

Men over the age of 65 are far happier with life than their female counterparts, new research of Britain’s retirees shows.


The nationwide survey of over 65s reveals adults’ happiness remains the same from childhood into middle age, but falls dramatically for women as they enter retirement age.

The results challenge pre-conceptions of old men being bad-tempered and negative as popularised by the fictional character Victor Meldrew in the sitcom One Foot in the Grave.

Timed to coincide with UK Older People’s Day (next Tuesday 1st October), the study also confirms that life begins at 40 – with a staggering 64% saying their happiest times have been from middle age onwards.

The Stannah Silver Census, commissioned by world leading British manufacturer Stannah, questioned 1,000 adults over 65, to provide a finger on the pulse of an oft-overlooked segment of British society.01


Victor MeldrewThe research also shows:

  • Only 21% of Britain’s over 65s were happier as young adults
  • 77% think older people can either make a valuable contribution to society or do more if given the chance
  • 66% think society values elderly people less than they did when they were young
  • 60% feel their needs are not understood by the government as compared to 34% for society at large


Patrick Stannah, joint managing director of Stannah Lift Services, said:

“The results of this research bring out some entertaining comparisons, but on a more serious level they confirm that for most people life really does begin during middle age.

“Whilst at times society may seem to value youth over experience, these results indicate that when it comes to happiness, Britain’s middle aged and over 65s are far more satisfied with life.

“Despite this, it is unnerving to see that Britain’s 10 million over 65s still feel undervalued by society and misunderstood by government.

“As we celebrate UK Older People’s Day we must consider how we can all work together to engage Britain’s over 65s, who are extremely keen to continue contributing positively to society.”