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A study of old people who in spite of frailty are coping successfully with changes in their daily life -

Factors and competencies which help them to manage their situation.

Abstract: Through the concepts of successful ageing and occupational science, the aim of this work is to gain a deeper understanding of factors related to frail older people successfully mastering changes in their daily lives. A sample of 85-year-old people from a Danish population study, have been interviewed in their homes by an occupational therapist. Out of 187 frail participants, 91 expressed satisfaction in everyday life despite limited mobility and loss of daily activities. A mixed methodology has been chosen, using quantitative and qualitative strategies in analysing the data. Analyses do not aim at finding cause-effect relationships, but search for patterns and differences in the ways changes are mastered. A review of studies on ageing successfully including ageing with frailty is conducted. Many of the findings link well-being with being active; engaged in life; and having a sense of purpose, but some question the need for being active in very old age. In this study, individual differences in handling the situation was seen and a complexity when strains reinforced one another. The satisfied frail 85-year-old participants managed their situation by using as well adaptive competencies as by upholding everyday occupation. Many had become slower or had limited strengths, but strived to manage independently. It is discussed if the value of autonomy is stronger than the need for active participation in important activities. Strong relation is found between satisfaction in everyday life and adaptive competencies, which included learning, and preventive intervention is proposed. Furthermore it is recommended, when offering support to frail old people, to pay attention to the value of upholding a daily structure through balanced occupational challenges and control. The survey is not representative for older people in general, but offers a glimpse of how everyday life changes and how some 85-year-old people master the process of ageing with frailty.


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