Aim. The study aimed to identify the elderly (+65) people’s subjective assessments of their quality of life and the possible sociodemographic and health-related resources to influence it.
Material and methods. The study is based on a postal survey conducted in 2010 incooperation between the Institute of Social Work of Tallinn University in Estonia and the Helsinki Arcada University of Applied Sciences in Finland. In Estonia 500 questionnaires were sent out and 581 were completed and returned by elderly people from Tallinn and Lääne-Virumaa, which accounts for 39% of the total number of delivered questionnaires. The data were analysed by using frequency tables and Pearson’s X2 test analysis and the significance level p corresponding to it. The results represent the subjective opinions of the respondents.
Results. Of the respondents 25% evaluated their quality of life on a 100-point scale as 40-50 and 39% evaluated it as higher than 61. The indicators of quality of life are higher for those who are employed, have higher education and higher income level. The quality of life of the elderly depends to a considerable extent on their positive outlook on life and different health indicators. Women showed higher incidence of bone and connective tissue diseases (50%) and fatigue and stress symptoms (51%). The majority of the respondents complained about sleep disorders (90%). Sleep disorders were most frequently caused by worrying thoughts, stress and health problems.
Conclusions. Among elderly persons, the perception of being useless and worthless and feeling lonely are accompanied by lower assessment of quality of life. Early detection of sleep disorders would help reduce many health risks. The data do not confirm improvement in quality of life in older age ( U-turn approach) as both the indicators of quality of life and satisfaction decrease after 70 years of age.