• motivation;
  • geriatrics;
  • functional performance;
  • activities of daily living

Motivation to perform activities of daily living in the institutionalized older adult: can a leopard change its spots?¶The concept of motivation has great relevance for the older adult because of the multiple problems that can result in functional limitations. The ability to overcome and transcend these problems is related to the individuals' motivation to maintain and/or improve function. The purpose of this study, which used a naturalistic or constructivist inquiry, was to explore what motivates the institutionalized older adult to perform functional activities. Primary selection was used to obtain the sample which included 44 older adults, 37 (84%) females, and 7(16%) males. The average of participants was 88 ± 6·4, and they were institutionalized for 2·8 ± 2·8 years. Semi-structured interviews were done in the participants room. Data analysis involved content analysis. A total of 27 codes were initially identified, and these were categorized and developed into five major themes: Personality, Goals, Beliefs, Fear and Physical factors. The participants indicated that basic personality had a major on motivation, i.e. `a leopard can't change his spots'. Further findings suggested that although personality may be central to the individuals' motivation to perform, goals, fear, beliefs and physiological sensations also influenced motivation and behavior. Appropriate interventions can be used to foster motivation to perform functional activities for institutionalized older adults.