May 29, 2007 / 8:17 PM / 12 years ago

Health, wealth predict quality of life for older adults

TORONTO, May 29 (Reuters Life!) - Financial resources, health and experiencing meaning in life are factors that directly influence a baby boomer’s quality of life, according to a new study by Canadian researchers.

A woman, takes a yoga class at her studio in San Francisco, California, in this March 29, 2006 file photo. Financial resources, health and experiencing meaning in life are factors that directly influence a baby boomer's quality of life, according to a new study by Canadian researchers. REUTERS/Kimberly White/Files

They found that emotional support and physical environment are also important. Companionship and intimacy have a moderate to strong positive affect and can even enhance the quality of life over time among cancer patients.

The study, published in the journal Research in Nursing & Health, looked at more than 400 Canadians between the age of 60 and 99 years with illnesses including chronic lung, heart problems and other illnesses.

It confirmed findings from a similar study two years ago that included more than 200 elderly people, which will help researchers to understand the aspects of quality of life in the elderly and ageing baby boomers.

“The findings that we had reported in our study are ones that held as significant in two different study samples,” said Dr. Gail Low, a University of Alberta researcher.

“We were able to find that these factors influence quality of life among two different groups of older people with a variety of different illnesses, in older age.”

Generally believed to have been born between 1946 and 1964, baby boomers make up approximately thirty percent of the total populations in the United States and Canada.

Low said the testing process is similar to that of an architect who makes drawings and tries to fit it to their client’s vision.

“You draw it out and then you try to test it against data that you’ve collected on older people, and then you ask if it fits or doesn’t’ fit,” she said.

“‘Is what I’m thinking about quality of life similar to what I’m observing when I test these relationships in my model, using real-time data from older people?’ And what makes the study interesting is that we didn’t stop at one group...we wanted to know, would it be as equally meaningful among another group of older adults? And it is.”

The two studies were conducted roughly two years apart, making them independent samples at two different points in time, which renders the findings more relevant to researchers as baby boomers move out of the work force and into retirement.

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