Senior Lecturer at the Social Anthropology Department, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Sumatera Utara (USU), is currently developing indicators to assess the life quality of the elderly age group. These indicators will become the first assessment ever made to measure the population of eldery in the context of a developing country.
Dr. Nurman Achmad, S.Sos, M.Soc.Sc, who are the leader of this research, explained that the life quality of the elderly age group is crucial. Particularly, nowadays the trend of the number of elderly in Indonesia keeps increasing along with the improvement of life quality. However, the indicators applied tend to use the life quality standard from Western countries. “It is not reasonable to compare the life quality of the elderly age group from one culture to another”
He added, “In the research I have conducted among more than 500 participants, Indonesian elderly have a life quality reflected from the subjective assessment indicators towards their own happiness. Using the qualitative approach, it turns out that the Indonesian elderly live happily if they feel they have completed their duties raising their children, and they are even happier if they have had grandchildren. For them, the children’s independence makes them feel satisfied, and even if they have to live by themselves, they will be just fine. The Indonesian elderly are proud and feel successful because they have completed their life duties as parents”.
Nurman Achmad explained that “the ethnics in Indonesia have life stages and every stage provides the indicators of a life quality at the perception and spiritual satisfaction level. Of course, those things cannot be captured by quantitative indicators, especially if those do not use the reflection of the elderly as the objects of life quality assessment.”
“If we apply the indicators of the Western countries, the result is all of our elderly belong to the category of not having a good life quality because the present indicators being used measure a life quality more physically,” said Nurman Achmad. Meanwhile, the meaning of humans’ life quality tends to relate more with nonphysical matters. Moreover, the worse impact from such physical assessment measurement is that “by adopting the indicators from outside of our lives, we seem to under estimate the elderly life quality that has actually been recorded in the symbols, procession, and values of life of Indonesian people.”
“We will include the indicators of self happiness, self accomplishment, and satisfaction toward oneself, and even spiritual peace, which have been abandoned in the indicators of the elderly life quality,” said Nurman Achmad. Right now, those indicators are being developed to be tested later on at a much wider scale in Asia. Nurman Achmad is hoping that these indicators will someday obtain a wide recognition and become the contribution of social sciences from Universitas Sumatera Utara to the global academic world