The notion of successful aging (SA) indicates elders could sustain physical health and socially active during the aging process, and achieving optimal aging could enhance happiness and vitality. However, perceptions of SA have not been reached consistently. Extant literature reveals aging successfully is culturally specific, and values of SA vary from Western and non-Western societies. Moreover, understandings of SA present discordances between self-assessed and researcher-defined SA. Given that existing studies on SA in the Chinese cultural realm is under-represented, this research deploys an ‘emic approach’ for exploring lay perspectives about SA among Chinese elders. This qualitative research recruited 19 seniors within two communities, and semi-structured interviews, focused groups were conducted for data collection. Through thematic analysis, results suggest perspectives of SA from laypersons are multidimensional. Participants suppose SA constitutes 10 elements which could be classified into 4 primary aspects: physical well-being (mobility, cognition maintenance), economic well-being (financial security, self-reliance), psychosocial well-being (harmonized relationship, social connectedness, self-esteem, acceptance and adaptation), and social welfare (affordability and accessibility of healthcare, government support). Especially, these viewpoints present some unique features. Compared with Western counterparts, financial security and affordability of healthcare were highly valued. Additionally, participants underscored harmonized family relationships but placed less emphasis on reciprocal care, which implies filial tradition may change. Finally, by contrast with previous studies, participants view acceptance and adaptation as important elements, especially in facing adversity and uncertainty during the pandemic. Overall, this research illustrates multifaceted perspectives about SA, which could provide valuable information for policymakers when planning age-friendly services.
Lili Shang, the University of Melbourne, Australia