Self-evaluation of health

Health is important for the life of every individual and its significance increases with age. The way in which the elderly view their health is reflected not only in their mobility and physical state, but also in terms of psychological perspective. State of health influences overall satisfaction with one’s life and is thus an equally important indicator of the care for the elderly in terms of social inclusion. Self-evaluation of one’s health situation is more an evaluation of a subjective opinion and attitude of an elderly individual regarding their wellbeing; nonetheless, it is an indicator that should not be underestimated. How do the elderly in the Czech Republic evaluate their state of health?

In May 2015, the Institute for Evaluations and Social Analyses (INESAN) completed a research survey dealing with selected aspects concerning care for the elderly in regard to social inclusion. The research survey focused on describing present living conditions of the target group and prerequisites for their successful inclusion. It also focused on attitudes and preferences concerning the method of inclusion and use of services. Quota sampling was used to select respondents and only people in a pre-elderly or elderly age, i.e. aged 55 to 84, were included in the studied sample; also, only people from areas with less than 5,000 inhabitants were included. A total of 651 interviews were carried out within the completed research survey.

A detailed analysis of the survey’s results showed that almost two thirds of respondents view their state of health as very good or relatively good, with 7 % of respondents claiming it is very good. On the contrary, a third of respondents view their state of health as relatively bad and a total of 4 % view it as very bad. The elderly’s evaluation of their health is influenced primarily by the individual’s age. Results show that respondents aged 65 to 84 see their state of health as bad (48 %) significantly more in comparison with 25 % of respondents aged 55 to 64 who viewed their state of health as bad. The process of ageing involves negative effects on our bodies both in the form of physical ageing, which weakens the body and makes it less resistant, and on our mental health, and are reflected in the overall evaluation of our wellbeing. It is clear from the findings above that the older group of the elderly (aged 65 to 84) is significantly more threatened by social exclusion than the younger group.

Graph: Self-evaluation of state of health

However, other circumstances can also contribute to social exclusion. Results of the survey showed that elderly individuals who consider their health to be poor often live in a household shared with an individual or individuals who are also in a bad state of health. This situation was identified in roughly one fourth of cases. Caring for oneself and at the same time for someone else with bad health significantly contributes to the negative evaluation of one’s own health and thus strengthens the overall negative evaluation of the state of one’s household.