Environmental support for autonomy in the institutionalized elderly


  • Dr. Muriel B. Ryden

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    • 6–101 Unit F, 308 Harvard St S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455
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    • Dr. Muriel B. Ryden, is associate professor, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.


The climate for autonomy in four urban proprietary nursing homes was investigated as part of a larger study of the relationship between perceived control and morale. Data from 113 residents, 137 caregivers, and 10 administrative personnel revealed that caregivers see themselves as the predominant decision makers. Although they prefer a slightly higher level of self-determination for residents, only in one-to-one and solitary activities do they prefer giving residents the primary decision making role, possibly because they see most residents as not capable of making decisions. Residents saw themselves as having more control than did staff. Grooming and eating were identified by both groups as areas where residents had the least control. A substantial proportion of caregivers and administrative staff did not emphasize the availability of options to residents.