A myriad of factors contribute to the well-being of older individuals. For caregivers and family members, answering the question, “What does quality of life really mean for seniors?” can help finalize difficult choices about an elder’s living situation.
How the World Health Organization Defines Quality of Life
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), quality of life is “an individual’s perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live, and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards, and concerns.” This comprehensive definition underscores that quality of life is not merely about physical health but also encompasses mental well-being and social functioning.
A 2019 synthesis of research published by the National Institutes of Health about how seniors perceive quality of life found several “domains” that help define how seniors think about their quality of life.
Health and Physical Autonomy
Health and physical autonomy are fundamental to seniors’ quality of life. Maintaining good health enables seniors to perform daily tasks independently, bolstering their sense of self-efficacy and overall well-being.
Dignity: Not Being a Burden
For seniors, retaining their dignity and not being perceived as a burden by others is crucial. This sense of self-worth positively impacts their mental health and contributes to their quality of life. In some cases, home renovations, such as bathroom modifications, that enable elders to continue to live independently and safely can help maintain and improve their perception of their quality of life.
Involvement in Activities That Spark Joy and Provide a Sense of Value
Pursuing a hobby, volunteering, or learning something new in ways that spark joy and provide a sense of value is important to seniors. Feeling like they can still contribute, learn, and find happiness in activities and helping others can significantly enhance seniors’ quality of life.
Supportive Relationships and a Positive Attitude
Supportive relationships with family, friends, and caregivers play a pivotal role in seniors’ quality of life. Such relationships offer emotional support, reduce feelings of loneliness, and improve mental health. Additionally, maintaining a positive attitude toward life can help seniors cope with challenges and enjoy their later years.
Faith, Ritual, and Continuing Self-Development
For many seniors, faith and spirituality are integral to their quality of life. Living with faith, practicing religious rituals, and continuing self-development through religious or spiritual practices can provide a sense of purpose, peace, and comfort.
A Pleasant Living Environment With Physical Security
Seniors’ quality of life is significantly impacted by their living environment. A safe, comfortable, and walkable neighborhood that feels physically secure can help maintain an individual’s mental well-being.
Financial security is a crucial aspect of seniors’ quality of life. Having the financial resources to meet their needs without dependence on others contributes to their sense of autonomy and dignity.
Understanding what quality of life means for seniors requires a comprehensive look at various interrelated factors. By acknowledging and addressing these aspects, caregivers and family members can significantly enhance their aging loved ones’ quality of life.