Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Psychology

A Study of Older Adults: Observation of Ranges of Life Satisfaction and Functioning

Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Psychology

A Study of Older Adults: Observation of Ranges of Life Satisfaction and Functioning

Article excerpt

Levels of daily functioning and life satisfaction in older people are investigated in this study. Surveys and interviews included 425 people aged 65+ and comparisons were made between three age groups (ages 65-74, 75-84, 85 +) on levels of activity, independence and social support; satisfaction with levels of independence, activity and social support and overall life satisfaction, Results indicated that those aged 85+ had significantly lower levels of activity and independence than those in the two younger age groups. Differences were found in 8 of 12 domains of independence and in outdoor work and mobility activities. The oldest age group was also found to be significantly less satisfied with their levels of independence and activity than were the younger age groups. No significant differences were found between the groups in overall life satisfaction. Levels of activity and independence, satisfaction with social support and satisfaction with independence were found to make unique contributions to t to the prediction of variance in overall life satisfaction. Findings are important in understanding what to expect of ourselves and others as we age, which daily activities are likely to be most difficult for older people and what factors are predictors of overall life satisfaction.

New Zealand is experiencing a growth in its population of older people (Statistics New Zealand, 2010). As life expectancy is extended, knowledge about what we can expect as we age must be informed by research. Understanding typical levels of activity and independence and how these factors affect life satisfaction for those aged 65+ can be very useful to us, as an ageing society, and to those who provide support and services to those experiencing life changes, impairments, loss and transitions associated with ageing. Tools for assessing daily function for older people may become increasingly important in research, psychology and rehabilitation. In this study, validated, widely used assessment measures have been utilised with an older, New Zealand population and other measures have been developed specifically for this study.

Daily function is often assessed in terms of problem identification and determinations of whether an individual can or can not perform an activity, rather than in identifying one's function along a continuum or within a range of typical functioning, mostly because normative ranges of daily functioning have not been documented for many populations. Although, with experience, we develop ideas of norms and ranges of functioning for groups such as children and specific disability groups, seldom do we have the experience to inform our understanding of normative functioning for those aged 65+. Our society is ageing and we are remaining active and independent much longer than ever before. This will have profound implications for societies regarding policies, social services, social security and quality of life. Although much research has been conducted in relation to deficits in daily functioning for older people, data regarding typical ageing and functioning is sparse.

In 1985 research was conducted that demonstrated activity levels remained high among older people until about age 79 (Guralnik, 1985). In 1987 researchers found older age groups more restricted in independence (Luker & Perkins, 1987). Later, researchers linked life satisfaction with independence (Davis, Lovie-Kitchin, & Thompson, 1995). And Goudy and Goudeau (1981) established links between life satisfaction, activity and friendship ties. This New Zealand study seeks to determine levels of functioning (activity and independence) in older people and then tie many of the elements from the studies above, to identify the relationships between functioning and life satisfaction in this population.

The specific aims of this research are to find if reported levels of activity and independence vary across three age groups of older people (Age group 1: 65-74, age group 2: 75-84 and age group 3; 85+); to explore levels of satisfaction with activity, satisfaction with independence, satisfaction with social support and overall life satisfaction across the three age groups; and to determine what contributes to overall life satisfaction for older people in this study. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.