The goal of this study was to explore the concepts of successful ageing held by elderly people in Taiwan. Data were obtained from the Successful Ageing of the Elderly in Taiwan survey of 2004. The sample was drawn from the population aged 65 or more years in one county in Taiwan by probability proportional-to-size sampling. The participants were asked: ‘What do you think are the essential components of an ideal and satisfactory life in old age?’ They were also asked to score the relative importance of 23 ‘successful ageing’ concepts. The replies to the initial open-ended question were grouped in six categories: physical health and independence, economic security, family and social support, engagement with life, spiritual well-being, and environment and social welfare policy. The most highly rated ‘successful ageing’ concepts were physical health, independence, living without chronic disease, living with family, and receiving emotional care. All the responses were subjected to a factor analysis, and five factors accounted for 58.7 per cent of the variance: family and social support, mastery over life, health, enjoyment of life, and autonomy. It is concluded that elderly people in Taiwan most value health and independence, and also place considerable importance on economic security and family support, which they see as inter-related. Many are also concerned about the social environment and social policy, indicating that their awareness of and participation in socio-political debates affects their quality of life.
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