Introduction: One of the major achievements of the 21st century is increased longevity. But this phenomenon has caused many concerns. With the arrival of the new millennium, ageing has become a major issue in demographic and social policy. In Iran, according to the 1390 census, 6,159,676 people or 8.2% of the population are aged over 60 years old. On the other hand, the concept of social welfare is often described in terms of satisfying human needs. It can be seen as a mental state; it is happiness or life satisfaction. Social welfare has also defined as a function of health, education, security, freedom, the environment, leisure, housing, and almost all combinations of the above. Evaluation of social welfare is very important so that policy decisions, international comparisons,
indicators of poverty, and inequality researches continually refer to assessments of social welfare. Monitoring and evaluation of social policies for the elderly requires a comprehensive, and precise data that consider all aspects of their life. The aim of this study is a comprehensive review of related studies about measures of elderly social welfare and strives to provide a multi-dimensional index in the field of social welfare of the elderly.
Method: This study is a descriptive study based on review study. Papers that examined social welfare measures and indexes with regard to elderly were identified through online literature research both in English and Persian database. Quantitative studies were searched and downloaded from Medline (pub med), SID (Scientific Information Database, www.sid.ir), Iran doc (Iranian Research Institute for information Science and Technology, Irandoc.ac.ir), Iranmedex (www.iranmedex.com), Magiran (www.magiran.com) and Iranpsych (Iranian Databases on Mental Health, Psychiatric and Psychological Research, http://iranpsych.tums.ac.ir). The electronic search was performed with no specification of language including articles from 1990 to 1 June 2015. The keywords included Elderly, Old, Older, Aging, Well-being, Welfare, Index, Indicator and Iran. In this case, Boolean operators were used for combined search for the key words. After the initial search in data bases 326
articles were found. At each step of reviewing abstracts the articles that were irrelevant and repetitive removed. 34 studies related to social welfare index in elderly were included in the final review, which was related to the purpose of the study. Then the selected studies reviewed by two reviewers and were extracted dimensions, domains and indicators of social welfare in elderly people.
Findings: Reviewing the studies indicate that Iranian studies emphases on mental and psychological aspects of social welfare such as happiness, life satisfaction, well-being, mental health, depression, and mood. On the other hand non-Iranian studies emphases on different aspects of social welfare for the elderly such as social, economic, health and life conditions. 10 dimensions were identified in the 34 reviewed papers including: economics, physical, mental and social condition, employment, education, the environment, emotional status, leisure, and access to services, which having various components. Multidimensional approach has not been used in any of the studied papers so large portion of studies have emphasized on mental dimension. Also, the Iranian researches focus on the mental dimension generally, however relatively less research focuses on leisure, spirituality, and access to services. Furthermore, quality of life and health studies has higher frequency in this review.
Discussion: Paying more attention to the leisure, spirituality and access to services for the elderly are recommended in the future. In addition, the effect of new technologies, which ease the daily activities of elderly people, on social welfare should be considered in the future studies. We conclude that multidimensional and comprehensive index is potentially very useful for elderly policy and recommend researcher to improve them further. It is expected that the initial research, created the new areas for deeper investigation of this issue and provided field for Meta-analysis of studies related to this area. In general, the use of a composite index of social welfare of the elderly, due to the diverse and more dimension of elder people life, can give a broader and more comprehensive approach for analyzing social welfare issues in elder people.