• elderly;
  • grounded theory;
  • home-dwelling;
  • model;
  • self-care

Model for the self-care of home-dwelling elderly

The aim of this study was to develop a model to clarify the existing knowledge concerning the self-care of home-dwelling elderly people. The data were collected in Oulu, a medium-sized city in northern Finland, by interviewing 40 home-dwelling elderly persons aged 75 or more. Data were analysed using the constant comparative method of the grounded theory approach. The model consists of four modes of self-care with different conditions for action and different meanings: responsible self-care consists of responsible activity by the elderly person based on a positive orientation towards the future and a positive experience of ageing. The meaning of responsible self-care is a desire to continue living as an active agent. Formally guided self-care consists of uncritical observance of instructions and routine performance of daily tasks. This approach is based on life experiences of taking care of others and realistic awareness of the effects of old age. The meaning of formally guided self-care is a tendency to accept life as it comes. Independent self-care is based on the person’s desire to listen to his/her own internal voice. These persons aim to manage in life independently and deny the prospect of growing old. The meaning of independent self-care is an attempt to maintain the constancy of life. Abandoned self-care is characterized by helplessness and lack of responsibility. It involves bitterness and a negative attitude towards ageing. The meaning of abandonment is a desire to ‘give up’. According to this study, self-care is not a separate part of old men’s or women’s lives, it is associated closely with their past life and with the future. As an activity, self-care is not just a rational way to maintain health. It also reflects the person’s overall attitude towards health care, illnesses and manner of living.