How do community-dwelling older adults enhance their well-being?

Susan Waterworth talks about her latest research in the International Journal of Older People Nursing.

Waterworth, S. Raphael, D., Gott, M, Arroll, B. Benipal, J, Jarden, A. an exploration of how community-dwelling older adults enhance their well-being. DOI: 10.1111/opn.12267

Older adults who are living with long term or chronic health conditions are particularly at risk of experiencing low psychological well-being. But  little attention has been paid to preventive strategies that would enhance their well-being and, in particular, to understanding how they enhance their own well-being. Therefore, we wanted to explore community-dwelling older adults approaches to enhancing their own well-being.  In our qualitative study we interviewed 37 older people aged between the ages of 66 and 99.   We also talked to 11 women in a focus group.

What we found out was that most participants used a range of strength-based strategies or practices to enhance their well-being. For example, they felt that being positive was important and they had ways in which they achieved this. Engaging in activities was about finding what worked for them. Maintaining strong relationships and connections with friends was also helpful. They found that having a sense of humour improved their outlook on life.

The view that individuals can take positive action to improve their well-being is essential. However, well-being is not a static concept and it is important to recognise the influence of health, social and environmental factors as enablers and enhancers of well-being.

Implications for practice: Nurses can play a central role in supporting older adults who may be at risk of lower well-being. They can do this by developing interventions to enhance wellbeing and by providing opportunities for older people to discuss wellbeing.

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