Older persons' perceptions of their future : a qualitative study in Hong Kong

  • Shuk Ching, Crystal SO

Student thesis: MPhil Thesis (Lingnan)


This study examines older persons’ hopes, fears and expectations for the future, a topic little explored in Hong Kong. The study of twenty-five people aged 65-85 years adopts a qualitative approach to explore the experiences that shape older persons’ views of their future lives. Three models emerged from the empirical study, namely The Model of Resignation, The Model of Predestination and The Model of Adaptation.

The findings suggest that respondents who had and still have little social support from friends tend to live very much in the present; they do not look forward to the future nor do they have a strong anticipatory sense of it. In addition, the research identifies “turning points” related to life events mainly in the domain of marriage, health, work and living arrangements that shape people’s attitudes toward their future. Turning points are identified by individuals as a moment when life is redirected into a different path. Turning points continue to influence subsequent events over their life-course. The concept of turning points helps us understand the life trajectories and transitions throughout the life-course.

The research also identifies variables that influence respondents’ perceptions of their future. This research indicates that current living environment and living environment does not appear to play an important part in how respondents view their future. Respondents who believed they had performed their responsibilities to their family and society or have strong religious belief did not report any fears related to their health. Respondents who failed to maintain good marital relationships in the past or in the present did not create future hopes in the domain of social relationships.

The study further investigates how older people translate their future hopes into daily activities and how they obstruct fears of the future. Furthermore, the research finds that respondents reported their own health and the well-being of their family members as the most important life domain. The research provides both formal and informal caregivers with ideas suited to motivating older persons to think positively about their daily lives and their future.
Date of Award2009
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Sociology and Social Policy
SupervisorDavid Rosser PHILLIPS (Supervisor) & William Peter BAEHR (Supervisor)

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