Open Access Research article

The well-being of community-dwelling near-centenarians and centenarians in Hong Kong a qualitative study

Wai-Ching Paul Wong123, Hi-Po Bobo Lau4, Chun-Fong Noel Kwok1, Yee-Man Angela Leung25, Man-Yee Grace Chan6, Wai-Man Chan7 and Siu-Lan Karen Cheung12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Social Work and Social Administration, Hong Kong SAR, China

2 Sau Po Centre on Ageing, Hong Kong SAR, China

3 Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, Hong Kong SAR, China

4 Department of Psychology, Hong Kong SAR, China

5 Department of Nursing, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China

6 Hong Kong Council of Social Service, Hong Kong SAR, China

7 The Department of Health, Hong Kong SAR, China

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BMC Geriatrics 2014, 14:63  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-14-63

Published: 13 May 2014

Abstract

Background

Hong Kong has one of the highest life expectancy rankings in the world. The number of centenarians and near-centenarians has been increasing locally and internationally. The relative growth of this population is a topic of immense importance for population and health policy makers. Living long and living well are two overlapping but distinct research topics. We previously conducted a quantitative study on 153 near-centenarians and centenarians to explore a wide range of biopsychosocial correlates of health and “living long”. This paper reports a follow-up qualitative study examining the potential correlates of “living well” among near-centenarians and centenarians in Hong Kong.

Methods

Six cognitively, physically, and psychologically sound community-dwelling elders were purposively recruited from a previous quantitative study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted.

Results

Four major themes related to living long and well emerged from the responses of the participants: (a) Positive relations with others, (b) Positive events and happiness, (c) Hope for the future, and (d) Positive life attitude. Specifically, we found that having good interpersonal relationships, possessing a collection of positive life events, and maintaining salutary attitudes towards life are considered as important to psychological well-being by long-lived adults in Hong Kong. Most participants perceived their working life as most important to their life history and retired at very old ages.

Conclusions

These findings also shed light on the relationships between health, work, and old age.

Keywords:
Ageing; Hong Kong SAR; Chinese culture; Community and public health; Health and well-being; Psychology; Psychosocial issues