Understanding Quality of Life in Old Age

Understanding Quality of Life in Old Age

Understanding Quality of Life in Old Age

Understanding Quality of Life in Old Age


What constitutes quality of life for older people? How can quality of life be measured? How might policy makers improve quality of life for older people? This book considers key findings from the Growing Older research programme and presents them in a lively thematic format. It discusses essential topics such as environment, family, bereavement, identity, and social interaction and describes key concepts and measures. Using data drawn from a range of different research projects, the book illustrates considerable methodological diversity to capture a broad picture of quality of life. Key implications for future research on quality of life in older age are also proposed. The book is a companion volume toGrowing Older: Quality of Life in Old Ageedited by Alan Walker and Catherine Hagan Hennessy and is key reading on a range of undergraduate and Masters level courses including social gerontology, social work, sociology and social policy. Contributors:Sara Arber, John Baldock, Kate M. Bennett, David Blane, Ann Bowling, Elizabeth Breeze, Jabeer Butt, Lynda Clarke, Peter Coleman, Kate Davidson, Murna Downs, Maria Evandrou, Ken Gilhooly, Mary Gilhooly, Jane Gow, Jan Hadlow, Catherine Hagan Hennessy, Paul Higgs, Caroline Holland, Georgina M. Hughes, Martin Hyde, Leonie Kellaher, Mary Maynard, Kevin McKee, F. McKiernan, Christopher McKevitt, Marie Mills, Jo Moriarty, James Nazroo, Sheila Peace, Thomas Scharf, Philip T. Smith, Peter Speck, Susan Tester, Christina Victor, Alan Walker, Peter Warr, Lorna Warren, Dick Wiggins, Fiona Wilson.


This, the third introductory volume to the ESRC Growing Older (GO) Programme series, represents a unique undertaking whereby the researchers who carried out 22 of the 24 projects combined in thematic groups to synthesize their findings. The result is the most comprehensive account available in one place of the myriad findings from the GO Programme. The Programme context was the essential basis for this collective endeavour but so also was the goodwill of those involved. Coming at the end of the life of a Programme that had made many demands on them, it was remarkable that they responded so warmly to the proposal to put together this volume, indeed, their enthusiasm overcame my initial ambivalence in broaching the subject. First thanks therefore go to the collaborators in this book and, indeed, to all of the 96 researchers associated with the Programme. As well as a commemorative mug, they have my lasting thanks for being such a pleasure to work with.

Catherine Hagan Hennessy served for two years as Deputy Director on the Programme, though we worked as a team on all fronts. She was a truly excellent colleague and has my warmest personal thanks for all her help and support in the latter stages of the GO Programme, as well as in the detailed discussions involved in the planning of this volume.

The ESRC provided the funding for the GO Programme and, without that, there would be no research to report. But the ESRC's role extended far beyond funding. The Programme had excellent support from the ESRC, from within the Anthropology, Linguistics, Psychology, Health and Sociology Research Area led by Ros Rouse; from Kathy Ham and Iain Stewart of the External Relations Division; and from a series of ESRC programme officers, including Faye Auty and Naomi Beaumont, at the beginning, and Shabnam Khan, at the end.

It is essential to acknowledge on behalf of the 24 projects and the Programme as a whole, the thousands of older people who took part in the GO projects as respondents and sometimes researchers or who contributed to the Programme in other ways.

The Programme Advisory Committee, chaired by Anthea Tinker, was a constant source of support and my thanks go to its members: Allan Bowman, Gillian Crosby, Leela Damodaran, Arthur Fleiss, Tessa Harding, Tom Hoyes . . .

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