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Free bus passes could increase happiness in older people

23rd May 2019

The secret to a happy life may be far simpler than people think as, according to researchers from University College London, a free bus pass leads to a better quality of life for people over 60.

Much like a walk-in bath or home stairlifts, using a bus may help older people with their day-to-day tasks. A free bus ticket scheme may encourage people to continue exploring new places and help them buy their shopping with ease. The extent of the benefits is highlighted in the new study which suggests people have greater life satisfaction and show fewer depressive symptoms.

The study is published in the Journal of Transport and Health and involved 6,000 participants who are eligible for a free bus ticket. The researchers found, as reported in The Scotsman, that those who utilise their bus pass are 7% less likely to be sedentary on a weekly basis and just over 30% less likely to be classed as socially isolated.

Currently, both men and women living in England are eligible for a free bus pass when they reach the female State Pension age. However, in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you can apply for a free bus pass once you turn 60. There have been some petitions to raise the age of eligibility as the scheme costs £1.17billion a year, however, many disagree and claim there are larger returns on investment.  

The chief executive of Greener Journeys, Claire High, campaigns for bus use and she comments: “Our research has shown every £1 spent on the free bus pass delivers at least £3.79 in wider benefits for society, by helping older and disabled people lead more active lives and access their communities and local services.”

The new study identified that older people who use their bus passes are overall happier. The lead researcher, Dr Sarah Jackson says: “Our research shows free bus travel offers clear benefits to older people’s health and wellbeing. It helps them to stay active and facilitates better contact with friends and family, which in turn has a positive impact on mental health. And because mental health has knock-on effects for physical health, maintaining wellbeing is also likely to help people stay physically healthy in later life, reducing the financial costs associated with an ageing population.”

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This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.