06 AN EMPHASIS ON COMFORT

When questioned about their conception of “ageing well”, seniors reveal their fundamental aspirations for the medium term. While ageing healthily is a universal preoccupation, the answers given demonstrate that their is a strong desire for comfort and a balanced life, rather than excessive activity.

Ageing well, the holy grail for seniors

Health is a key concern for seniors and Europeans as a whole. Those under 35 are just as hopeful of ageing healthily as those aged 60 to 75, and this aspiration intensifies with age. It is what more than 85 % of European seniors wish for the most. Only the Hungarians consider closeness to loved ones to be the number one factor in “ageing well”.

Fortunately, this desire to age well is supported by a constantly improving figure for Healthy Life Years at age 65 (Fig. 19). This indicator, which was put in place last decade, stands at 8.5 years in Europe and is highest in the Northern countries (Denmark, Belgium, United Kingdom).

Fig. 19 For you, “ageing well” means “being healthy” above all.
Source: Eurostat 2013 Healthy Life Years at age 65, L’Observatoire Cetelem de la Consommation 2016; scope: 50 to 75 year olds.

Spotlight on health

From a financial perspective, healthcare is a major expense item for seniors and one that costs them as much as clothing and durable goods (source: Eurostat). It should also be noted that, in all countries, healthcare expenses that are not covered by social security or insurance are on the up.

Beyond the preventive measure taken and actual treatments undergone, health concerns clearly have a very strong influence on the day-to-day consumer behaviour of seniors. A number of European studies show that they account for more than half of all purchases of skincare products, mineral water and probiotic yoghurt. Thanks notably to seniors, health food is one of the food sector’s growth segments in Europe, although this is even truer in the United States and Japan.

Seniors are also lovers of comfort

Health is evidently the most precious asset to Europeans, an aspiration that rises in a fairly linear fashion with age. However, the expectations of seniors contrast, in terms of their intensity, with those of the younger generations when it comes to three items that collectively highlight a desire to enjoy a comfortable life (Fig. 20). More than 60 % of seniors would like to be surrounded by loved ones and enjoy financial peace of mind. More than half aspire to living in a high-quality environment. That’s 5 to 10 points more than 18 to 49 year olds.

However, “ageing well” at a more advanced stage in life does not seem to revolve around sporting activities, leisure pursuits, working with associations or even professional activities. This is a perspective that seniors share with under 35s and 35 to 50 year olds. People therefore display great continuity in their expectations. The aspirations of the younger generations and today’s seniors are similar, but the latter place a greater emphasis on living comfortably.

In Germany and Belgium, material concerns take clear precedence over interpersonal relations. They also score highly in the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Romania. Meanwhile, the presence of loved ones is viewed as fundamental in Poland, Hungary, Spain and Portugal (Fig. 21).

Fig. 20 For you, above all “ageing well” means… Several possible answers.
Source: L’Observatoire Cetelem de la Consommation 2016.

Fig. 21 For you, above all “ageing well” means… Several possible answers.
Source: L’Observatoire Cetelem de la Consommation 2016; scope: 50-75 year olds.