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Exploring the Journey Towards Successful Ageing in
the Philippines:
A Mixed-Method Study

Dr. Nicamil K. Sanchez

Australian Catholic University


Currently, there are no universally accepted definitions, dimensions or scales for measuring successful ageing. Rowe and Kahn’s (1977) three dimensions of successful ageing, namely, wellbeing, physical functioning, and social engagement, have been adopted by most studies in the literature to measure successful ageing. A review of the extant literature on successful ageing revealed that the majority of the studies on successful ageing have been conducted in developed western countries, despite the fact that the majority of older persons live in developing countries like the Philippines. Additionally, studies on successful ageing have been limited in their consideration of the sociocultural context in the experiences of successful ageing and the factors that may facilitate or hinder the process.

The purpose of this study was to explore the personal experiences of older Filipinos with
successful ageing and the association between sociodemographic variables and successful
ageing, using a mixed methods approach. To achieve this purpose, the study was divided into
two parts: Study 1 explored the association between sociodemographic variables of age,
gender, marital status, educational attainment, place of residence, living arrangement,
household head and classification, home ownership, group membership, social pensions, level of participation in older person’s organisations, income and successful ageing. Successful
ageing was measured using Rowe and Kahn’s three dimensions of successful ageing:
wellbeing, physical functioning and social engagement. Data for Study 1 were collected from
200 respondents between the ages of 65 and 93 living in poor rural and urban communities in
the Philippines, using a structured questionnaire. Study 2 explored older persons’ personal
experiences of successful ageing and the factors that either hindered or facilitated the process
of successful ageing.


Data for Study 2 were collected through in-depth interviews with 75 participants who were selected from Study 1. Data in Study 1 were analysed using Chi square, t-test analysis, and analysis of variance (ANOVA) for exploring the association between sociodemographic variables and successful
ageing. The findings of Study 1 revealed that 102 respondents (51%) did not attain successful ageing, while 98 respondents (49%) attained the three dimensions of successful ageing that were measured. The study also found that educational level, mode of income, living
arrangement, perspectives on health, social participation, living above US$1.25, and marital
status were significantly associated with successful ageing.


When the sociodemographic variables were analyzed against the three dimensions of successful ageing, significant associations were found between household classification and wellbeing and physical functioning; and group membership was significantly associated with social engagement. In
exploring age as an effect modifier, an age-stratified analysis revealed that there was a significant association between income provisions, living arrangements, homeownership, and
social participation in organizations and successful ageing among young-old to middle-old
respondents (65 to 74 years old). Significant associations were also found between marital
status and income provisions with successful ageing among old-old to oldest-old respondents
(75 years and above).

Data in Study 2 were analyzed using thematic analysis. In respect of successful ageing, the
findings showed that the participants used various terms, such as: being happy, dignified,
healthy, productive ageing, and being active. Further, the key themes that emerged in
describing the factors that facilitated successful ageing included: community and family
harmony, healthy lifestyle, spirituality, participation and social position, and assistance from
government. Social isolation was most often referred to by the participants as a hindering
factor in the attainment of successful ageing, followed by health problems and financial security.

It is hoped that the findings of this exploratory study will be useful in informing social
welfare policies and programs for economically disadvantaged older persons in the
Philippines. It will also be useful in contributing to the literature on successful ageing and in
the development of research-led social work knowledge for practice with older persons in the


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