Research article published on Pubmed. October 9, 2020
AUTHORS:F Shiraz, Z L J Hildon, H J M Vrijhoef.
Understanding older adults perceptions of health and adaptation processes to ageing can allow for more culturally aligned services and better targeted care. The aim of this exploratory qualitative study was to examine older adults perceptions of physical, psychological and social health and further understand the processes of adaptation and self-management of these health perceptions. Semi-structured in depth interviews (IDI) were conducted with ethnically diverse older adults in Singapore, aged 60 and above. Participants were asked open ended questions about their physical health, psychological health and their current social health and relationships. They were also asked methods of adaptation to these age related changes. In total, forty participants were interviewed. A thematic analysis identified five main themes when exploring perceptions of physical, psychological and social health. These included; 1) Slowing down 2) Relationship harmony 3) Financial harmony 4) Social connectedness and 5) Eating together. Adaptation and self-management of these health perceptions included six additional themes; 1) Keep moving 2) Keep learning; where continued self-determination and resilience was a key method in adapting to negative thoughts about declining physical health 3) Adopting avoidant coping behaviours 4) ‘It feels good to do good’; where finding meaning in life was to help others 5) ‘Power of Prayer’; which highlighted how older adults relegated responsibilities to a higher spiritual power 6) Social participation; which included engaging in community and religious social activities that all contributed to self-management of older adults psychological health and social health. In conclusion, our study highlighted specific cultural nuances in older adults perceptions of health, particularly psychological and social health. These findings can help develop more targeted intervention programmes and better methods of measuring older adults health, which can assist with the global ageing phenomena.
Keywords: Ageing; Ageing experiences; Asian older adults; Biopsychosocial health; Health perceptions.