Important aspects of life

LASA filenames:

Contact: Martijn Huisman


Society increasingly stresses that older people give a voice to their wishes, e.g. concerning care services. Therefore, in LASA it is examined which aspects of life older persons rate as important, or in other words, which are their priorities.

Measurement instruments in LASA

Out of a list of nine aspects of life, respondents were asked to indicate which three aspects they considered most important. This resulted in indicator scores for each aspect (indicated/not indicated). The questionnaire was derived from research conducted by The Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP: Sociaal-Cultureel Planbureau) (Gijsberts, 1993), and was adapted for use in the older population. Adaptations consisted of distinguishing between physical and mental health, replacing the aspect ‘nice occupation’ by ‘meaningful pastime’, and replacing ‘much spare time’ by ‘good housing’.

The list consisted of the following aspects:

  • Good income
  • Nice family
  • Good physical health
  • Meaningful pastime
  • Good marital life
  • Strong faith
  • Good mental health
  • Many friends and acquaintances
  • Good housing


impor1-9 in: LASAB110 / LASAC110 / LASAD110 / LASAE110 / LAS2B110 / LASAF110 / LASAG110 / LASAH110 / LAS3B110 / LASAI110 / LASAJ110 / LASAK110 (self-administered questionnaire: in Dutch)

Variable information

The file LASA*110 includes also a sum score, indicating how many items were rated as important. Most persons (95%) indicate 3 aspects, but there are also a number of persons who mention more or less than three aspects.

impor1-9 in: LASAB110 / LASAC110 / LASAD110 / LASAE110 / LAS2B110 / LASAF110 / LASAG110 / LASAH110 / LAS3B110 / LASAI110 / LASAJ110 / LASAK110 (K not available yet)

Availability of information per wave


Important aspects of life


¹ More information about the LASA data collection waves is available here.

* 2B=baseline second cohort;
3B=baseline third cohort;
MB=migrants: baseline first cohort;
K=not available yet

Sa=data collected in self-administered questionnaire

Previous use in LASA

In the baseline sample of persons aged 55-85, a large majority rated good physical health as one of the most important aspects (75.5%) (Deeg & Braam, 1997), followed by a good marital life (55.1%), good mental health (37.0%), nice family (30.0%), good housing (28.7%), good income (23.7%), strong faith (18.7%), meaningful pastime (14.8%) and many friends and acquaintances (10.6%).

Older-olds less often mentioned good physical health, good marital life or nice family compared to younger olds, but more often mentioned strong faith or good housing. Women less often mentioned good marital life or good income, but more often mentioned meaningful pastime or strong faith, compared to men (Deeg & Braam, 1997).

In general, when certain aspects were available for older persons these aspects were more likely to be rated as important. In addition, a tendency was observed that persons who mentioned an aspect as important, while this aspect was not available, had a lower perceived quality of life than other persons (Deeg & Braam, 1997).

In six years’ time, priorities among those with chronic diseases shifted somewhat towards less emphasis on good health and greater emphasis on a nice family and good housing (Deeg, 2007).

Twenty-year trends (1992-2012) in importance of aspects of life showed that in the age group 65-85 years, priorities were remarkably stable. Only the importance attached to a strong faith declined substantially, and the importance of good health increased to being an even higher priority than it was in 1992 (Deeg, 2014).


  1. Deeg, D.J.H., Braam, A.W. (1997). Het belang van kwaliteit van leven voor ouderen zelf. Een kwantitatieve benadering [What is important to older persons and how does it affect their quality of life? A quantitative approach]. Medische Antropologie, 9, 1, 136-149.
  2. Deeg, D.J.H. (2007). Health and quality of life. In H. Mollenkopf, A. Walker (Ed.), Quality of Life in Old Age (pp. 195-213). Springer.
  3. Deeg, D.J.H. (2014). Nieuwe tijden, nieuwe prioriteiten? [New ages, new priorities?] Gerõn: Tijdschrift over ouder worden & samenleving, 16(3), 11-14.
  4. Gijsberts, M. (1993). Culturele veranderingen: Het wegen waard? [Cultural changes: Worth measuring?] Rijswijk, the Netherlands: Social and Cultural Planning Office.

Date last update: October 29, 2014