Significant Life Events in Old Age: A qualitative longitudinal study of older people's experiences

  • Lloyd, Liz E (Principal Investigator)
  • Cameron, Ailsa M (Co-Investigator)
  • Smith, Randall C (Co-Investigator)
  • Seymour, Jane (Co-Investigator)
  • Ebrahim, Shah (Co-Investigator)
  • Turton, P (Co-Investigator)
  • Memel, David S (Principal Investigator)
  • Rossdale, M (Principal Investigator)

Project Details


Significant Life Events in Old Age. A qualitative longitudinal study of significant events in people aged 75 and over, with particular focus on the impact of events on the end of life.

This is a one-year pilot research project, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, which, it is hoped will lead to a three-year prospective study of people aged 80+. The aim is to explore the relationship between ageing and death through examining significant events in the lives of this age group, such as bereavement, hospitalisation and moving home. The research will examine responses of health and social care services to significant events and analyse how decisions are made over the nature and location of care and support. Evidence suggests that there are gaps between what people say they want and what they experience. For example, research shows consistently that the majority of people wish to die at home, yet the majority dies in hospitals.

An innovative design has been developed for this study, which will enable us to capture older people’s perceptions of their circumstances and needs as well as those of service providers. A random sample of 100 people aged 80+ will be drawn from the lists of 2 GP surgeries. Participants will be interviewed by telephone or face-to-face every two months throughout the year and data about a broad range of factors in their lives will be recorded and analysed. Significant events in their lives will be examined more closely through follow-up face-to-face interviews with older people and significant others, including health and social care staff. This will enable us to examine the processes of decision-making over the type and location of support services and the relationship between these decisions and older people’s eventual deaths.

The pilot is necessary to test these methods and instruments for their effectiveness in yielding good quality data and their appropriateness for the main study as well as the effect of participating in research on this group.

Layman's description

This project explored the end of life in old age looking at events in the lives of older participants

Key findings

Better knowledge of the end of life in old age is needed and requires a focus upon decisions made and events that occur in later life when the need for support and care increases.
Alternative titleSignificant Life Events in Old Age
Effective start/end date1/11/0131/01/03

Structured keywords

  • SPS Centre for Research in Health and Social Care


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