• elderly care;
  • gerontology;
  • life orientation;
  • positive emotion;
  • positive affect;
  • health promotion;
  • health resources;
  • survey design;
  • descriptive statistics

Scand J Caring Sci; 2010; 24; 349–356 Positive life orientation–an inner health resource among older people

As pertains to life orientation, the study's conceptual framework demonstrates the importance of close relationships, meaning in life, and the strength of individuals to look forward and make plans for future. The aim of this study is to discover, in relation to background factors such as language, living situation, and culture, how people aged 65 and 75 experience life orientation. The study is a population-based cross-sectional survey with its material taken from 3,370 questionnaires which included the six-question Life Orientation scale. The SPSS static program, version 14.0, was used for all calcuations and the Chi-squared test was applied to determine if any significant differences between the groups existed. As seen in this study, most respondents aged 65 (85%) and 75 (73.2%) experienced a high degree of positive life orientation, clearly expressing a zest for life (93.5%), overall satisfaction with their lives (88.4%), and feelings of being needed (83.7%). Lower scores were given for never/seldom being depressed/sad (55.3%) and never/seldom feeling lonely (71.8%). Approximately every second respondent (51.9%) had plans for the future. A clear decreasing trend was seen in all questions for respondents aged 75 in comparison to those aged 65: only ``are you satisfied with life?'' showed no significant differences. Language/culture seems to clearly affect experiences of life orientation and well-being. Additionally, older people living alone reported significantly more negative response to all dimensions of life orientation. Positive life orientation is an important inner health resource for older. Accordingly, health promotion for older people should focus on facilitating the maintenance of important and close relationships and should include supporting older people's need to be needed.