Author(s): NILSSON M, EKMAN SL, SARVIMKI A
Within nursing and health care research, an increasing amount of work on quality of life is being conducted. The purpose has, however, been mainly to survey or measure health-related quality of life. Today there is a need for a comprehensive approach to quality of life in older people who are living in their own homes, as well as for a more diversified picture of ageing. The purpose of this study was to describe the meaning that older people give to their experiences of being old related to their quality of life. A sample of 30 senior citizens, who were 82-92 years old, was selected from a longitudinal project in Sweden. In-depth interviews were carried out and analysed using a phenomenological-hermeneutic method. Six dimensions were found to be important to these older people's experiences of ageing and quality of life: relationships, activities, health, philosophy of life, the person's past and present lives, and future perspectives. Five pattems emerged relating to the meaning ascribed to the experiences of quality of life. These were: successful ageing, a good old age, a comparatively good life in old age, bad ageing, and a miserable life in old age. The findings demonstrated a diversity of experience within a 'good life', which was inconsistent with the stereotypical picture of old people as a homogeneous group. A negative picture of life in old age, as held by some persons, was also found; however, the older persons' ways of responding to experiences of misery in life varied. The results also indicate that the concept of a good life is in some ways a more useful way of describing a good quality of life in old age.