Adapting to the challenges of the tenth decade of life: A mixed method study with Hong Kong near-centenarians and centenarians = 應對第十個十年的挑戰:香港近百歲及百歲老人的混和方法研究

Project title
Adapting to the challenges of the tenth decade of life: A mixed method study with Hong Kong near-centenarians and centenarians = 應對第十個十年的挑戰:香港近百歲及百歲老人的混和方法研究
Principal Investigator
Grant Awarding Body
Research Grants Council
Grant Type
Faculty Development Scheme
Project Code
Amount awarded
Funding Year
Duration of the Project
36 months
Worldwide, the population is aging rapidly. One in two children born after the year 2000 is expected to live up to his or her 100th birthday. Hong Kong is no exception. While the number of older adults aged 65 or above has been expected to rise from 1.16 million in 2016 to 2.59 million in 2066 (2.2 times), the number of adults aged 80 or above has been expected to increase from 340,300 in 2016 to 1.21 million in 2066 (3.5 times). The growth of centenarians could be even more – from about 2,800 in 2014 to 46,800 in 2064 (16.7 times). Enabling the oldest members of our society to live a dignified, autonomous and satisfying life – despite their age – is the key goal for initiatives and policies that support successful aging for all. Survival to age 80 is qualitatively different from survival from 80 to 100 years or older. The latter group tends to face more physical frailty, more difficult recovery from diseases, the departure of their spouse and even of their adult children, and their own imminent death. Despite these often-unresolvable ontological situations, our previous study – The 2011 Hong Kong Centenarian Study – revealed a group of near-centenarians and centenarians (NCCs; aged 95 or over) who lived a dignified, autonomous and satisfying life. While our previous study was the first in the territory to survey the physical and psychosocial well-being of NCCs, this study will investigate how these extremely old individuals cope with their multidimensional challenges using a century’s worth of coping resources and strategies. This study conceptualises the coping process of NCCs as managing the loss and gains of limited personal and social resources. To cope with an adversity, older adults have to deploy personal and social resources to various reactive and proactive, cognitive and behavioural coping strategies. Successful resolution restores well-being and may lead to growth in resources. Families of these older adults are situated in the current era where aged-old wisdom constantly meets with new technologies under the changing normative family structure. In exploring the coping process, this study will investigate the impacts of indigenous wisdom, family caregiving and use of technology on the quality of life of the older adults and their families. Our findings will enable policymakers and care professionals to devise responsive strategies to facilitate aging-in-place for older adults and support to families with adults of advanced age as well as prepare the younger cohorts for aging successfully into their last decade of life. This study employs a convergent parallel mixed-method design. Cognitively sound Hong Kong Chinese older adults who have had their 95th birthday will be recruited together with their primary family caregivers. The Hong Kong Council of Social Service will support the recruitment of participants through their networks of elderly and rehabilitation services. Quantitative data, including physical health, psychological well-being, social support, spirituality, personality, coping strategies, lifestyles, health and social care utilisation, use of technology, caregiving experience and demographic characteristics, will be collected through a structured survey. Accounts of participants coping with adversities will be assessed using a life-story interview approach. Both quantitative and qualitative data will be collected through face-to-face interviews. Each data collection session will last for about 2.5 to 3 hours, with both the caregiver and the older adult participating. While the quantitative data will facilitate comparisons across participants and with international centenarian studies, qualitative data will provide rich contextual information about participants’ struggles and coping processes. The use of the mixed-method approach balances the depth and breadth of the information collected. The estimated sample size is 150 dyads. The project will take 36 months. As the third generation of centenarian studies begins to blossom worldwide, a centenarian study of Hong Kong Chinese older adults that is based on a clear conceptual framework with emphasis on the contribution of indigenous wisdom and gerontechnology, that capitalises on the strengths of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, and that engages the voices of family caregivers is urgently needed to inform the next era of policies that will suit the needs of families with adults of advanced age.