Elderly people's definitions of quality of life

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The subject of this paper is the definition and measurement of the concept of quality of life, and questions the operationalization of quality of life simply in terms of health status measures and scales of functional ability. It is based on a review of the literature, and the initial analyses of the first stage of a study designed to identify individual's views of the quality of their lives and to test the relevance of various scales used to measure quality of life. The study focuses on older people living at home in two contrasting areas of south east England, and demonstrates not only that older people can talk about, and do think about, quality of life, but also highlights how quality of life varies for different age groups of the elderly population living at home, in different geographical areas. In addition, early conclusions also indicate that there is more to quality of life than health: indeed, social contacts appear to be as valued components of a good quality of life as health status. This study deals with issues high on the agenda of the current debate on quality of life and its measurement; it has implications for those involved in both quality of life research and in health and social service policy for older people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1439-1446
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1995


  • quality of life
  • elderly
  • measurement

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