To ascertain which quality of life domains affect the happiness of older South Africans.
Seven hundred and ten respondents, aged between 50 years and 93 years, participated in the study. Seven single items assessed satisfaction with: oneself, family life, friendship, one’s time to do things, neighbours, social life and health. Responses were summed for overall quality of life. A 31-item scale measured satisfaction with activities (16 items), financial situation (7 items) and people (8 items). One item measured global happiness.
Coefficient alpha was 0.90 (7-item quality of life scale), 0.95 (activities scale) and 0.87 (finances and people scales). Although there some racial differences on the 10 quality of life domains and happiness, Black respondents, who acted as caregivers, had a poorer quality of life and were less happy (P < 0.05) than those without these responsibilities. Stepwise multiple regression revealed that satisfaction with social life was the most important predictor of happiness for Blacks and Indians; satisfaction with oneself for Whites, and time to do things for Coloureds. Overall findings suggested that three out of the ten domains adequately represented perceived quality of life, care-giving responsibilities negatively affect quality of life and happiness and race plays a role in predicting happiness.