Enhancing later life: how older people perceive active ageing?

Bowling, Ann (2008) Enhancing later life: how older people perceive active ageing? Aging & Mental Health, 12(3), 293 - 301. ISSN (print) 1360-7863


Objective: To identify older people's perceptions of active ageing, and to compare them with the literature, and with older people's perceptions of successful ageing and quality of life.Design: Face-to-face interview survey with 337 people aged 65+ living at home in Britain.Results: The most common perceptions of active ageing were having/maintaining physical health and functioning (43%), leisure and social activities (34%), mental functioning and activity (18%) and social relationships and contacts (15%). A third rated themselves as ageing 'Very actively', and almost half as 'Fairly actively'. Independent predictors of positive self-rated active ageing were optimum health and quality of life.Discussion: Main sub-themes of active ageing included exercising the body and mind in order to maintain health and functioning. People's views focussed on basic definitions such as social, physical and mental health and activity, probably reflecting the novelty of the concept to them, thereby excluding frail older people from active ageing. Comparisons with definitions of successful ageing and quality of life showed overlap, but the latter were portrayed as 'states of being'. This is consistent with models which propose quality of life as the end-point of active ageing.

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