Self-determination is governed by ethical and legal rights in western society. In spite of that, older people are still restricted by others in their decision-making processes. The purpose of this paper is to explore older persons’ different conceptions of self-determination.
A qualitative phenomenographic interview study on frail older persons (n=15).
Three categories emerged, showing the variations of conception of self-determination as experienced by frail older people: first, self-determination changes throughout life; second, self-determination is being an agent in one's own life; and third, self-determination is conditional. In summary, while self-determination is changeable throughout life, and older persons want to be their own agents, and struggle to be that, certain conditions must be met to make it possible for them to be able to exercise self-determination.
Suggestions for supporting and strengthening frail older persons’ self-determination, and indirectly their well-being and health: to have a person-centered approach, treat them with dignity and respect and give them opportunities to influence and to feel involved; to improve their health literacy by, for example, supporting them with enough knowledge to be able to exercise self-determination; to make them feel safe and secure in relationships, such as with family and caregivers.
This study explores frail older persons’ own conceptions of self-determination to be able to gain knowledge of how professionals can support them so that they may experience self-determination in life.
Vårdalinstitutet – The Swedish Institute for Health Science, Gothenburg, Sweden (www.vardalinstitutet.net) and Vinnvård, Stockholm, Sweden (www.vinnvard.se). The result of the paper has been presented orally at AT – FORUM (Swedish National Conference for Occupational Therapists), held in Stockholm April 24-25, 2013.
Ekelund, C., Mårtensson, L. and Eklund, K. (2014), "Self-determination among frail older persons – a desirable goal older persons’ conceptions of self-determination", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 90-101. https://doi.org/10.1108/QAOA-06-2013-0015Download as .RIS
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