Meaning of quality of life for older adults: importance of human functioning components

Arch Gerontol Geriatr. Sep-Oct 2009;49(2):e91-e100. doi: 10.1016/j.archger.2008.08.013. Epub 2008 Nov 1.


This study explored the perceptions and lived experience of community-dwelling older adults about their quality of life (QOL) in regards to personal factors, social participation and environment. A qualitative design was used to extend existing work on QOL focusing on human functioning components and advanced QOL conceptualization. Based on a semi-structured interview guide, two individual in-depth interviews were conducted with 18 participants (aged 63-92; 12 women) having various levels of ability and QOL. Personal factors, such as health, inner life and behavioral abilities, were found to be essential for QOL. Being occupied and doing activities associated with good health habits are also important. Accomplishment of social roles is, for the majority of participants, more significant than daily activities. The physical and social environment must be adapted to the person's needs and preferences. Participants' perceptions differed only slightly according to their ability and QOL levels. Findings show the critical role of adaptation to disabilities and aging for better QOL. A sense of control over one's own life also has beneficial effects. These results point up the importance of considering perceptions about personal factors, social participation and environmental factors in older adults' QOL. Other theoretical as well as methodological implications for further QOL study are highlighted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged / psychology*
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological
  • Quality of Life*
  • Social Support