GfK-Austria, a market research institute, has investigated how content Austrians are with their life, which is defined as the ‘individual perception of the quality of life’.
About the author
Monika Altenreiter is a teacher-researcher affiliated to the August Aichorn Institute of Social Work at the University of Applied Sciences JOANNEUM, Eggenberger Allee 1, A-8020 Graz, Oostenrijk.
The poll shows that 60-year olds and older are most content with their life. It has been found that contentment and quality of life are positively influenced by education, physical exercise and, not surprisingly, social class. Furthermore, the findings show that travel, the environment, art and culture are among the top interests of the generation 50/60+.
An attempt has been made to find typology for the generation 60+. Four categories have been set up to classify this generation: smart and swift (11%), established (39%), committed and active (25%), stay-at-home (25%). Differentiating characteristics for these types are their affinity of social networks, social life and hobbies, use of new media, and physical activity and contentment. Those who are established are on average 69.5 years old, they like to work on and in their homes and gardens, have hobbies and seek the company of people their own age. They feel financially secure and are content. The ones called stayat-home are 70.2 years old, like to rest and spend time with their pets, sometimes they feel lonely and would like to be younger. They are also fearful of the future. The committed and active make up 25 % of the generation 60+; they like cultural activities and want to participate actively in society. They see themselves as active and able to achieve goals. Their average age is 69.5. The smart and swift type makes up 11% of the examined generation. Their average age is 66.5; they still have goals in life, are enthusiastic about new media and the internet. They like to go out and take on odd jobs (Seniorenbund, 2015). As mentioned previously, social class, which goes hand in hand with income, has to be stated in this context as well. The average amount of money at free disposal for the various types of the generation 60+ is as follows: the smart and swift have € 652,- per month on average, the established have € 641,-, the committed and active have € 616,- and the stay-at-home type has the least amount of money per month, namely € 435,-.
Insight into the 80+ generation
A further study has tried to shed light on the life quality of Austrians aged 80 and over (Martin, 2015). A general conclusion from this study is that the image of age and ageing needs to be re-thought. The public image of the older generation in Austria is often negative and deficit-oriented. While it may be the case that many older people have some physical or mental impairments, it has to be pointed out, however, that the majority of people aged 80 and older can live a self-determined life. In 410 interviews with elderly people between 80 and 85 both qualitative and quantitative data regarding health, accommodation and care have been collected. While most interviewees could be described as vulnerable and/or frail from a medical point of view, more than half of them estimate themselves to be reasonably healthy and content. Georg Ruppe, Chairman of the Austrian Interdisciplinary Platform on Ageing, states that: “More than three quarter of the interviewees are generally content with their lives. […] We need to learn more about this generation in order to plan, support and react to their needs.”