Sunday, September 15, 2019

Contributing factors toward SWB of the Institutionalized Elderly Essay

Apart from delineating the cognitive and affective indicators of SWB, this study also attempted to identify the possible factors which contribute to SWB. A host of factors were identified in the largely western literature. These are presented in the succeeding pages. Physical Health: Health is one of the most important variables in predicting whether people are happy (Campbell et al. , 1976). The World Health Organization defines health as, the optimal functioning of the human organism to meet biological, psychological, ethical and spiritual needs (Emeth & Greenhut, 1991). In this study the elderly were said to have ‘optimal functioning’ when he or she had basic competence, which was necessary for maintenance of independent living (Martin, 2001). In the case of the elderly in the study it was denoted by their ability for personal care on their own. It also pertained to mental health, which was a state where the elderly were not prone to depression, or other mental illness, and did not have any major cognitive impairments. Autonomy: Autonomy could be equated to having the capacity for selfdetermination, independence, internal locus of control, and internal regulation of behavior (Ryff, 1989). Having a sense of being in control (autonomy) means that one’s thoughts and actions are one’s own and not determined by others. It is related to physical health too as it gives a sense of mastery over situations. It is important for all and particularly for the elderly to maintain that sense of control or autonomy because a sense of losing control of one’s life or one’s power is to in some ways lose one’s worth, which can have detrimental effect on one’s physical as well as psychological health. Money/Income: Income or money is importantly related to a sense of well-being in old age (Diener, 1984) and the elderly in the study may or may not enjoy financial security Money is important probably because of the sense of security that they experience when they have enough money which could implicitly affect their sense of autonomy and self-worth. Family Relationships: Family is a natural institution constant across time and space which is a very close and intimate group and one’s sense of well-being is sustained by membership in this primary group, as it provides a sense of security, connectedness, and belongingness to the aged. There are no substitutes for the close relationship in the experience of well-being in the case of the aged. In the case of the elderly in the study, family relationship is limited to this intimate group consisting of the spouse, children and grandchildren as the extended family is almost nonexistent in the given context. Friendship: Friendship or close relationship with members of the same age group often sharing personal characteristics, life styles, values and experiences is a source of enjoyment, socializing, and reminiscing the past; promote a higher satisfaction among the older adults (Sorensen & Pinquart, 2000). In the given situation it could be long standing friends from the past, and or the friendship developed among the co-residents of the home. Social Support and Social Interest: To experience a sense of well-being persons should have deep feeling of sympathy, and affection for human beings (social interest/altruism). That is, their ability to go beyond the personal to interpersonal establishing deep, profound interpersonal relationships and social support, to transpersonal, which is relating to the Divine in the social context of one’s life. These play a significant role in maintaining their psychological, social, and physical integrity over time (Witmer & Sweeny, 1992) and consequently the sense well-being. Attitude toward Death: Death can be understood as a natural process of transition from one stage of life to another. Depending on the meaning people attach to death, they fear death or embrace it as a natural transition with a sense of acceptance and surrender (Atchley, 1997). Accepting old age and death meaningfully makes life happier. Fear or acceptance of death is closely related to general satisfaction. According to (Moberg, 2001), when life is lived to the full, death becomes a fulfillment, a completion. Religion and Spirituality: Subjective aspects of religion and spirituality include religious identification, religious attitudes, values, beliefs, knowledge, and mystical/religious experiences. Religious experience provides a sense of meaning and purpose in daily life (Polner, 1989). Spirituality usually refers to a unique, personally meaningful experience of a transcendent dimension that is associated with wholeness and wellness (Westgate, 1996). Spiritual wellness is the dimension that permits the integration of one’s spirituality with the other dimensions of life, thus maximizing the potential for growth and self-actualization (Westgate, 1996). At this point of SWB research, there is already an idea of the variables which correlate with SWB. However, a better understanding of parameters that influences the relationships, the directions of influences between variables, and the different influences interact are still needed (Diener, 1984). Given the assumption that these features are deep cross-cultural, universally applicable, core characteristic features of well being sought by the aged, the researcher believed that the institutionalized care for the aged and their subjective sense of well-being is also context specific. An understanding of psychological well-being necessarily rely upon the moral visions that are culturally embedded and frequently culture specific (Christopher, 1999). In this context, one might ask how the institutionalized aged of Gladys Spellman experience the transition from mathru-pithru devobhava (mother and father are like gods) to institutionalized care, what their experience of the subjective well-being consisted in, and what might be the specific factors that would contribute to their sense of well being. It is possible that the western culture-specific factors of subjective well-being outlined above may not have the same relevance for the population under investigation. This study was expected to help understand the contextspecific aspects of well-being of the institutionalized aged.

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