Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth
Despite the rapid growth in the share of the population aged 80 and over in the total population (Federal Statistical Office, 2016), knowledge about this population group has been limited to date. Although there are thematically, methodologically and regionally specific studies, there is no representative coverage of the living situation and quality of life of this age group for the whole of Germany. However, a good data base is necessary: On the one hand, in order to be able to better meet the special support needs in old age in the future, and on the other hand, in order to be able to develop solutions for sociopolitical challenges, such as social security in old age, as well as with regard to intergenerational justice.
The state-wide, representative survey of the old-aged population in North Rhine-Westphalia NRW80+ has shown that most old-aged people are satisfied with their lives. Nevertheless, there are differences in the quality of life in old age, for example between men and women or people in private households and in nursing homes. In order to build up a nationwide data base, the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) funded a representative survey of the population aged 80 and over in Germany (D80+) for three years.
The D80+ study combines various disciplines ( Sociology, Psychology, Medicine and Gerontology) located at ceres and builds on the interdisciplinary framework model for explaining quality of life in old age (CHAPO model), which was developed for the NRW80+ study.
The extension of the survey on the quality of life of people in old age to the whole of Germany was carried out in cooperation with the German Center for Gerontology (DZA). A central goal was the connectivity to the German Aging Survey (DEAS) conducted at the DZA. This made it possible to combine findings on middle age with those for old age.
The D80+ study builds on the study protocol and instruments developed in the NRW80+ study of the old-aged. In the D80+ study, too, persons living in homes were specifically targeted and persons who are no longer able to provide information were included, if possible, via interviews with persons close to them (proxy interviews). For the first time, the study enables valid statements to be made specifically for the group of very old people for the whole of Germany.
Compared to the implementation in NRW, however, pandemic-related changes had to be made to the design, as the planned face-to-face survey with a scheduled start in March 2020 could not be conducted. Instead, a written survey was conducted first, followed by an additional telephone survey. In the first step, questionnaires were sent to over 40,000 randomly selected old-aged persons. The contents of the questionnaire were kept as identical as possible to the existing instruments of the NRW80+ study. However, not all questions were suitable for a written survey (e.g., cognitive tests and complex filter guides). Therefore, participation in an additional telephone interview was requested. This supplements the written survey with additional content and thus represents an important gain in information. It was also possible to answer the mailed questionnaire by telephone in order to take into account various preferences, but also health restrictions (e.g., visual impairments) of the participants and to be able to include as many groups as possible in the survey. A total of 10,578 people answered the questionnaire, 10,468 of them in writing and 110 by telephone. This means that more than one in four of the people contacted took part in the survey. In the additional telephone interview with more detailed questions, 3,233 old-aged people participated.
We would like to thank all respondents for their participation in the D80+ study. Initial results of the study have been published in recent months in the form of 10 thematic short reports. These can be downloaded on the right-hand side. The short reports will soon be published with accompanying information on the D80+ study in the form of an anthology on the project. Information on this will be made available here in due course.
Dr. Judith Wenner
ceres – Cologne Center for Ethics, Rights, Economics, and Social Sciences of Health
+49 (0)221 470-89116