Ageing Well: Quality of Life in Old Age

Ageing Well: Quality of Life in Old Age

Ageing Well: Quality of Life in Old Age

Ageing Well: Quality of Life in Old Age


What is quality of life? What is quality of life in older age? How can quality of life in older age be improved? This book explores concepts of quality of life in older age in the theoretical literature and presents the views of a national sample of people aged sixty- five years or older. It offers a broad overview of the quality of life experienced by older people in Britain using a number of wide ranging indicators, including: Health Hobbies and interests Home and neighbourhood Income Independence Psychological wellbeing Social and family relationships The result is a fascinating book enlivened by rich data -- both quantitative and qualitative -- drawn from detailed surveys and interviews with almost a thousand older people. Ageing Well is key reading for students, academics, practitioners and policy makers who are concerned with the research and practice that will help to improve quality of life for older people.


I enjoy talking with very old men, for they have gone before us, as it were, on a
road that we too may have to tread, and it seems to me that we should find out
from them what it is like and whether it is rough and difficult or broad and easy.

Socrates, in Plato, The Republic, pp. 4–5, translated with an
introduction by Desmond Lee, 1955, 2nd edn. 1987. © H.D.P. Lee.

Reproduced with permission of Penguin Press.

There is international interest in how to improve the quality of human life while extending its quantity. But as Bond and Corner (2004) have pointed out, despite a long tradition in the sociology of ageing of eliciting and respecting lay views and perspectives, there are relatively few studies that have asked older people themselves about the quality of their lives. Hence the importance of the multi-method study presented here, which reports on older people's views of quality of life, and how it can be improved, as well as comparisons with the results of theoretically led measures of quality of life.

In this book I have presented data from a social survey of almost 1000 people aged 65 and over living at home in Britain: the ESRC-MRC HSRC QoL Survey. The research set out to discover what older people themselves thought about their lives and what is important to them, and especially how they rate their quality of life and how this can be improved. The findings enabled the 'drivers' of quality of life in older age to be identified, and key implications for policy-makers, and older people themselves, to be drawn up.

Chapter 1 presents an overview of the vast body of multi-disciplinary, theoretical and lay-based literature on the topic of quality of life. The methods of the study are presented in Chapter 2.I have organized the subsequent chapters containing the research findings around the quality of life themes mentioned by the older people themselves. In each chapter, following a more focused summary of the pertinent literature as an introduction, the quantitative data are presented as well as material from the open-ended survey questions and in-depth interviews. The latter clearly illustrate older people's perceptions of the things that gave their lives quality and the things that took quality away (material from the in-depth interviews is labelled as such, in order to distinguish it from the open-ended survey responses; the keys 'R' (respondent) and 'I' (interviewer) are used in the illustrations presented where applicable).

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