Wellbeing, health and happiness



Sometimes depression is mistakenly thought of as a natural part of growing old. Though depression can be an understandable reaction to loss, it is not an inevitable part of life in older age. Depression can be prevented and effects can be minimised when it's recognised and treated appropriately.


Relationships in later life

Satisfying relationships, including intimate relationships, are important to the wellbeing of all people, including older people. In this section we look at some of the relationship issues you may face as you grow older.  This series of articles has been produced by Age Concern New Zealand in partnership with Relationships Aotearoa.

Ageing is Living : Recipes for Life

Our Ageing is living : Recipes for life booklet works like one of those TV shows where you’re given the ingredients and have to make up the recipe yourself.  Except in this case it’s your recipe for making the most of life as you grow older. 

We give you fourteen “ingredients” to play around with – things like optimism, love, generosity, fun - and dignity.  Then we provide a few tips for how to add each ingredient to your recipe for life. 

The idea is to encourage people to recognize and use the life skills and resources they already have (these could be spiritual, intellectual, cultural or social) and to keep developing new ones. 

So, no matter what “age or stage” you’re at, if you've ever stopped and thought about how to live well, and how to age well, this little book could be just the thing.

Role models

Positive role models and mentors, the people we admire and strive to emulate, could be thought of as the protein component of our recipe for life.  They are a source of strength, inspiration and wisdom that can help make our own reserves and resources go that much further.


Curiosity adds fire and spice to life.  Like a good curry, it really gets the digestive juices flowing. A good helping of curiosity keeps our brain cells ticking over and helps make life stimulating and meaningful.  It also has the effect of making us more interesting to other people.


Life without generosity and reciprocity is like pavlova without eggs! 

Acts of giving and receiving bind us to others.  They add body, substance and strength to the communities we belong to.


A sense of dignity, self-worth or self-respect should be one of the staple ingredients in every recipe for life.  Like rice, taro, kumara or potato it's a solid foundation to which we can add all sorts of flavours.

Having a sense of your own worth means valuing your life experience, recognising your attributes and being aware of what you have to offer others.


It’s no wonder people say “laughter is the best medicine”.  Fun, laughter and a sense of enjoyment are guaranteed to add a health-giving zest to your life. 

Get into the habit of adding a big daily dose to your diet.


Friendship is like cream.  It adds richness to life and takes out the sting when things get too piquant.

Our friends and the networks we are part of help bring out the best in us.  They also help us get through tough times.


Like yeast in a bread mix, family helps us rise above ourselves.  It enfolds us in a whole that is bigger than the sum of its parts, an organism that has a life of its own.

Most people will say that the really important people in their lives are those they think of as family.  A family shares joy and pain and knows that we are stronger when we depend on one another.


Love can be as sweet as honey and as bitter as black coffee.  Either way, it’s a powerful and energizing force that we can’t live without.

Allowing ourselves to give and receive love and affection can be the most rewarding thing we do in life - and we can do it in so many different ways.  People, pets, places, books, ideas, gardens, houses… all of these can be the object of our love, and make us feel loved in return.


Once you add optimism to your recipe for life it flavours everything you do.  It’s a bit like garlic: eat enough of it, and it’ll come out your pores!

Being optimistic means having a hopeful and a positive outlook, especially in the face of setbacks and obstacles.  Fortunately we don’t have to be born this way - optimism is something we can learn.


Plans are like the baking dish that holds a mixture.  They give life shape and structure; they help us take control of the present and the future and achieve our goals and dreams. 
For people who like to know where they are going and how they are going to get there, making plans offers a sense of security and hope.  Once plans are in place, this can also free up ‘headspace’, allowing us to think about other things. 

Equilibrium is essential to any recipe for life. It’s not always easy to achieve. 
The key is to arrive at the right measure of each of your chosen ingredients - so that the whole mixture has a balance that makes life as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Customs and culture
Customs and culture are like herbs, they deliver a distinctive flavour and colour to life, and can have healing and health-giving properties. 
We all have a “culture” - a set of beliefs, values, stories, traditions and customs that we feel most comfortable with.  

Adaptability is like salt.  It makes the experiences life dishes up so much more palatable. 
Life is constant change, much of which is beyond our control.  The older we get, the more change we experience – in our work life, family life, living arrangements, income, social networks, our body and our health.


Mindfulness gives us a heightened ‘sense of being’. It helps us untangle life’s complexities so that we can be fully in tune with being alive. Practising mindfulness makes us more aware of what we have, and increases our sense of satisfaction with our lot. It is one of the pathways to spiritual health.