Sense of security among people aged 65 and 75: external and inner sources of security


L. Fagerström: e-mail:


fagerström l., gustafson y., jakobsson g., johansson s. & vartiainen p. (2011)Sense of security amongst people aged 65 and 75: external and inner sources of security. Journal of Advanced Nursing67(6), 1305–1316.


Aim.  This paper is a report of a study exploring possible external and inner sources of the sense of security felt by older people aged 65 and 75.

Background.  The concept of ‘security’ has been parsimoniously defined and explored, especially as pertains to older people, and previous research has primarily focused on risks in relation to individuals’ declining health and functional ability.

Methods.  In 2005, population-based cross-sectional surveys were carried out in 15 municipalities in Västerbotten, Sweden and 18 municipalities in Ostrobothnia, Finland. A 15-page questionnaire (84 questions) was distributed, with the final total response rate reaching 68·4% (n = 3370): 1825 Swedish-speaking Swedes, 926 Swedish-speaking Finns and 621 Finnish-speaking Finns. The statistical analysis was three-stage, including nominal stepwise regressions.

Results.  Older people who indicate that they are ‘very secure’ are more likely to consider life meaningful and are able to master various life crises. Moreover, they possess confidence in economic institutions and are more likely to feel economically secure. Weak trust in family and friends or neighbours and decreased functional ability seem to indicate a subjective feeling of ‘insecurity’.

Conclusion.  Caregivers in health care should focus more on supporting older persons’ meaningfulness in life and how their feelings of security can be strengthened by trusting relationships and activities. In nursing, there should be more focus on developing knowledge of inner health resources, including positive life orientation and meaningfulness in life.