Life satisfaction of elderly in institutions: The importance of the living environment and quality of care for a good old day

  • Jacobien Niebuur Jacobien Niebuur

Population ageing increases the importance of taking care of the elderly.Although many studies investigate which factors influence elderly well-being, not much is known about the determinants of well-­beingfor the specific subgroup of institutionalized elderly yet.We contribute to existing knowledge in this field by investigatingthe determinants of subjective well-being of residents in Dutch elderly institutions.Specifically, we investigate to what extent the quality of theseinstitutions influences their residents’ life satisfaction.This study provides evidence that Dutch elderly institutions areindeed able to contribute to their residents’ subjective well-being.Satisfaction with privacy in the living environment is the mostimportant determinant of life satisfaction for our sample.The quality of care influences satisfaction with life as well; bothmedical care and nursing care are important.Changes in health status as well as limitations in activities of dailyliving caused by pain are significantly related to life satisfaction.Interestingly, the living environment is more important than thequality of care in determining subjective well-being.Next to institutional quality, other factors play an important role:mental problems and loneliness are strongly negatively related tolife satisfaction.Our results suggest scope for improvement in institutional qualityin the Netherlands, especially with respect to diagnosing mentalproblems and adequate pain management.The factors that are the most important in determining life satisfaction appear to be important in explaining happiness as well.However, our results show differences in the determinants of lifesatisfaction as opposed to happiness too.In existing literature, life satisfaction and happiness are regularlyused as subjective well-­being measures and they are often usedinterchangeably.In this study, we show that for our sample, life satisfaction andhappiness are somewhat different concepts and should thereforebe treated distinctively.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is een denktank en kennisnetwerk. Netspar is gericht op een goed geïnformeerd pensioendebat.


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