Objectives: The study presents the findings of a quantitative research conducted among people aged over 90, who live in a large town of Hungary, Debrecen. The aim of the research was to examine the lifestyle, attitudes, values, and physical and mental condition of old and long-lived people. We laid a special emphasis on the exploration of the life perspectives, mood and mental youth, and their interconnections.
Methods: The sociological questionnaire used for data collection (159 questions) was intended to inquire socio-demographic characteristics, dietary habits, health condition, physical activity, and identity features. Further examinations were conducted in order to measure the level of depression using the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) and mental condition using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). We managed to reach out to the elderly living in the town on the basis of family doctors' districts (N = 212). We dealt with a subsample of 115 people since we got answers for all questions from them. During data processing, we applied multivariate statistical methods, first of all linear regression analysis and cluster analysis. We examined the differences between clusters using variation analysis.
Results: According to our results, the extremely low educational level of the elderly belonging to the target group did not decrease their life perspectives, but it had a significant impact on the age when their illness begun. We revealed a connection between the mental condition and the level of depression. Better mental condition (higher MMSE) resulted in lower depression level (low GDS). One of our main finding is that the change in the level of depression (GDS) is 13.4% due to the change in the mental condition (MMSE).
Conclusions: Physical and mental activity, personal autonomy, a wide range of activities, and avoiding isolation and solitude allow people to experience quality ageing; all these factors can be substantially influenced by the status acquired at a younger age. We believe that it is extremely important for the society to develop guarantees for active old age, which would ensure the optimal balance between the possibilities of physical and mental health, social participation and safety.
Keywords: elderly people in the society; life quality of the elderly; long life; mental health of the elderly; super old.