Understanding the Multi-Dimensional Mental Well-Being in Late Life: Evidence from the Perspective of the Oldest Old Population

Abstract

The promotion, maintenance, and improvement of well-being among the oldest old population is becoming a great public health concern. This study aimed to explore the experiences of individuals aged 80 plus regarding their mental well-being (MWB) and its contributing factors in four European countries. A qualitative approach was followed, with twenty-three focus groups. One hundred and seventeen respondents were recruited from senior community centers, adult day care centers, and nursing homes. Data was assessed using qualitative content analysis. Participants’ perspectives on MWB were collated along four dimensions: functional, social, personal and environmental. Staying healthy and maintaining independence, having close relationships with others, and insightful experiences with friends positively contributed to MWB. Additionally, engagement in fruitful or inspiring activities contributed to enhance personal development, which, in turn, had beneficial effects on MWB. Having a positive outlook was also found to be associated with MWB. Results reinforce the dynamic and multidimensional nature state of MWB, as well as highlighting the significance of psychosocial factors. Developing and implementing policy actions including a focus on the social and physical environment as well as strengthening personal capabilities and self-esteem, can foster MWB among the oldest old population.

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Acknowledgements

Our deepest appreciation to all the individuals who helped with the recruitment procedure and the study/interview participants for their generous contribution, which made this work possible.

Funding

This study was funded by The Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) “More Years, Better Lives- The Potential and Challenges of Demographic Change”; and has received funding by the “Acciones de Programación Conjunta Internacional 2016” program (PCIN-2016-118) of the Spanish Research Agency (AEI) of the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness; the Italian Ministry of Health; the Academy of Finland; and the Research Council of Norway.

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Correspondence to Marta Miret.

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Appendices

Appendix 1

See Table 2.

Table 2 Open-ended questions used during the focus groups

Appendix 2

See Table 3.

Table 3 Frequencies of mental well-being statements

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Lara, E., Martín-María, N., Forsman, A.K. et al. Understanding the Multi-Dimensional Mental Well-Being in Late Life: Evidence from the Perspective of the Oldest Old Population. J Happiness Stud 21, 465–484 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-019-00090-1

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Keywords

  • Well-being
  • Oldest old
  • Social relationships
  • Active aging
  • Functioning
  • Qualitative study