I want to thank Craig Fukushima (@ctffox on Twitter), of The Fox Group — healthcare industry consultants — for pointing me to a very interesting study on creating an objective method for measuring quality of life for seniors.
For those of us involved in elder care, including Support For Home, whether it is on the medical side or support for ADLs (Activities of Daily Living), the more objective we can be in identifying needs, strengths and opportunities for improving quality of life, the better.
The results of the study are published by The International Longevity Center – UK, “a think-tank impacting policy on longevity, ageing and population change”. There is much great and thought-provoking material on their Website.
The primary author is Dr. Ann Bowling BSc MSc PhD FFPH, Professor of Health Care for Older Adults, Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences, St George’s, University of London & Kingston University.
Dr. Bowling reports that there are a number of “building blocks, or drivers” of quality of life (QoL) in older age:
• Psychological: people’s standards of social comparison & expectations in life,
• Psychological: a sense of optimism & belief that ‘all will be well in the end’ rather than a tendency to think the worst (glass ‘half full’ rather than ‘half empty’ perspective on life),
• Health: having good health & mobility, physical functioning,
• Social participation & social support: engaging in a large number of social activities & feeling supported,
• Neighbourhood social capital: living in a neighbourhood with good community facilities & services, including transport,
• Neighbourhood social capital: feeling safe in one’s neighbourhood,
• Self-efficacy and having a sense of control over one’s life was a mediating variable, which was initially statistically significant in predicting QoL, but lost significance by the end of the modelling process. These factors contributed far more to perceived quality of life than objective indicators of material circumstances, such as actual level of income, education, home ownership, or social class.
Even compared to economic security and the status of health, the factor that strikes me, from the overall results, as most critical, is a strong social network — family, friends, neighbors, activities. These networks need to be built “from young age onwards – so that they have a stock of such social resources in later life.”
Based on our own experience in providing elder care, we think the study is absolutely on target. Social support networks are vital to quality of life as we age.
Best wishes, Bert