Ageing and Society

Nonagenarians: a qualitative exploration of individual differences in wellbeing

a1 H. M. Queen Sophia University College and Nursing, Stockholm Gerontology Research Center, and Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge University Hospital, Sweden.
a2 NHMRC Psychiatric Epidemiology Research Centre, The Australian National University, Canberra.
a3 Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge University Hospital, Sweden.


This paper focuses on the subjective experience of extreme old age for 12 people scoring high and low respectively, on wellbeing measures. The purpose was to illustrate and expand upon the quantitatively derived findings from a previous study of nonagenarians living in Stockholm, using a qualitative approach inspired by grounded theory. The results suggest that outlook on life, social and emotional ties, engagement with the outside world and physical capability are important contributors to subjectively experienced wellbeing in this age group.

(Accepted August 7 2000)

Key Words: nonagenarians; experience of wellbeing; qualitative approach.

c1 Address for correspondence: Pernilla Hillerås, Stockholm Gerontology Research Center, Box 6401, 113 82, Stockholm, Sweden. e-mail: