By 2026 people aged 65 and over are projected to make up approximately 20% of the population of New Zealand. A focus on the positive aspects of ageing includes consideration of the factors that promote good mental health in the population. In the present study of early old age (65-70 years) we highlight factors that are amenable to social and structural change in order to support positive ageing as people move into retirement. Analysis of cross-sectional survey data from 1761 people aged 65-70 was used to test the prediction that economic living standards are related to social support and loneliness (taking into account gender and ethnicity differences) and these factors in turn will affect mental health. Multiple regression analysis showed that lower living standards are both independently related to mental health and also contribute to diminished opportunities for social support. Social support and loneliness in turn, are related to mental health. Such observations suggest the importance of changes in social attitudes and social policy to build societies in which older people are valued and supported both economically and socially.
New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 2010, 39 (2), pp. 49 - 55