Measuring quality of life is a necessity for adequate interventions. This paper concerns the usefulness of six self-report measures for overall quality of life for nursing home residents with various levels of cognitive impairment. It was investigated which proportion of residents from four cognition groups could complete a scale, and internal consistency and construct validity of the scales were studied. Data collection took place in ten Dutch nursing homes (N = 227). The proportion of residents that could complete each scale varied. The Depression List could be administered most often to the cognitively most impaired group (43%; Mini Mental State Examination-scores 0-4). In the three cognition groups with MMSE-score >5, internal consistency of the Depression List, Geriatric Depression Scale and Negative Affect Scale was adequate in all three groups (alpha ≥.68). Intercorrelation was highest for the Philadelphia Geriatric Center Morale Scale, the Depression List, and the Geriatric Depression Scale (rho ≥.65). Nonetheless, self-report scales were not strongly correlated with two observational scales for depression, especially in cognitively severely impaired residents (rho ≤ .30). In conclusion, it may not be possible to measure overall quality of life through self-report, and possibly also through observation, in many nursing home residents.