Scand J Caring Sci; 2012; 26; 113–122
Self-care ability among home-dwelling older people in rural areas in southern Norway
Introduction: The growing number of older people is assumed to represent many challenges in the future. Self-care ability is a crucial health resource in older people and may be a decisive factor for older people managing daily life in their own homes. Studies have shown that self-care ability is closely related to perceived health, sense of coherence and nutritional risk.
Aim: The aim of this study was to describe self-care ability among home-dwelling older individuals living in rural areas in southern Norway and to relate the results to general living conditions, sense of coherence, screened nutritional state, perceived health, mental health and perceived life situation.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was carried out in rural areas in five counties in 2010. A mailed questionnaire, containing background variables, health-related questions and five instruments, was sent to a randomly selected sample of 3017 older people (65+ years), and 1050 respondents were included in the study. Data were analysed with statistical methods.
Results: A total of 780 persons were found to have higher self-care ability and 240 to have lower self-care ability using the Self-care Ability Scale for the Elderly. Self-care ability was found to be closely related to health-related issues, self-care agency, sense of coherence, nutritional state and mental health, former profession, and type of dwelling. Predictors for high self-care ability were to have higher self-care agency, not receiving family help, having low risk for undernutrition, not perceiving helplessness, being able to prepare food, being active and having lower age.
Conclusions: When self-care ability is reduced in older people, caregivers have to be aware about how this can be expressed and also be aware of their responsibility for identifying and mapping needs for appropriate support and help, and preventing unnecessary and unwanted dependency.