Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Social Environment is the Key to Quality of Life for Older People


Healthy older people living with a partner feel they have the highest quality of life, whilst those in residential homes are likely to report the poorest, according to new research funded by the Economic & Social Research Council as part of its Growing Older Programme.

A three-year-long study of residents aged between 65 and 98 in the London Borough of Wandsworth was carried out by a team led by Professor Graham Beaumont and Dr Pamela Kenealy of the University of Surrey Roehampton and the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability. They found that next to having a partner, older people identified family and good health as important to their quality of life.

Belonging to a Church, being able to get about, membership of a lunch club and independence came next down the list, ahead of considerations such as companionship or security. Professor Beaumont said: “Over the whole range of factors directly affecting people’s perception of their quality of life, the social environment – including home, safety, finances, services, leisure, environment and transport – is the single most important. We found that those in residential homes gave the lowest ratings on all counts when compared with anyone living with a partner, family or friends.”

He added: “It is true that those in residential homes were generally older, less sharp mentally, and suffered more from health problems. However, health did not account for the difference in our results.”

The study involved 193 older people who did not have significant health problems or physical disability, and whose mental alertness and recall were normal for their age. The study says that physical disability was seen by them as a factor in a lower quality of life, being associated with lower mental ability. The more disabled were likely to be in sheltered or residential accommodation, and were more likely to be depressed or have lower self-esteem.

Perhaps surprisingly, people’s educational and financial status, though contributing to quality of life, had no direct relationship to the scores for quality of life given by those in the study. Almost 80 per cent saw themselves as different from those who were worse off, perhaps accounting for the generally high quality of life reported by those participating.

Those living with a partner, companion or family were more likely to be positive in their approach to life, while those living alone for more than 10 years were significantly less so.

People who had difficulties remembering their own past tended to feel more content with their quality of life, had a better perception of their health and were less likely to be depressed. Professor Beaumont said: “It seems reasonable to suppose that failing to remember the past may sometimes be beneficial, making adverse comparisons with quality of life in the past less severe.”

The most important factors determining the older people’s sense of quality of life, besides the social environment, were how healthy they felt (although all were actually in good health), freedom from depression, good mental faculties and personal optimism.

The study showed that depression leads to a lower sense of quality of life, rather than the other way round. Depression further influences quality of life by affecting mental alertness, and worries about health were the main factor affecting depression and social life.

Anna Hinds | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht New population data provide insight on aging, migration
31.08.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht PRB projects world population rising 33 percent by 2050 to nearly 10 billion
25.08.2016 | Population Reference Bureau

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Enormous dome in central Andes driven by huge magma body beneath it

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Deep down fracking wells, microbial communities thrive

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>