This book started its life during a symposium we organised on Quality of Life in Old Age at the Fifth Conference of the International Society for Quality of Life Studies (ISQOLS) in Frankfurt in July 2003. We are extremely grateful to Alex Michalos for sponsoring that session, encouraging us to use the symposium presentations as the basis for a book and for his support during the commissioning and editing process. We are also very grateful to the authors of this volume for the prompt delivery of their manuscripts and responses to our editorial comments. Finally our special thanks to Marg Walker for her expert and efficient preparation of the manuscript for publication. Heidrun Mollenkopf Alan Walker Heidelberg Sheffield ix SECTION I UNDERSTANDING QUALITY OF LIFE IN OLD AGE ALAN WALKER AND HEIDRUN MOLLENKOPF 1. INTERNATIONAL AND MULTIDISCIPLINARY PERSPECTIVES ON QUALITY OF LIFE IN OLD AGE Conceptual issues Quality of life (QoL) is a multidimensional, holistic construct assessed from many different perspectives and by many disciplines. Moreover, the concept of QoL can be applied to practically all important domains of life. Thus, QoL research has to include social, environmental, structural, and health-related aspects, and be approached from an interdisciplinary perspective. This holds even more when QoL in old age is the focus because ageing itself is a multidimensional process.