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Governing or being governed: Older persons' experiences of self-determination

Conference contribution
Authors Isabelle Ottenvall Hammar
Synneve Dahlin-Ivanoff
Katarina Wilhelmson
Kajsa Eklund
Published in Age Well - 22nd Nordic Congress of Gerontology, 25-28 maj, Göteborg, Sverige
Publication year 2014
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Social Medicine unit
Centre for Ageing and Health (Agecap)
Language en
Keywords activities of daily living, aging, decision making, dependence, grounded theory
Subject categories Other Medical Sciences


Introduction: In Sweden it is a legal right for older persons to exercise self-determination. Exercising self-determination is also important for older persons’ health and well-being. Health professionals are in general aware of the importance, but research shows that older persons’ self-determination is not fully respected within the health care sector. Research on self-determination from the perspective of older persons who are in the beginning to develop dependence in daily activities is limited. In order to deepen the knowledge of older persons own experiences in this process, further studies are needed. Aim: The aim of this study was to explore experiences of self-determination when developing dependence in daily activities among community-dwelling persons 80 years and older. Method: Qualitative interviews with 11 persons aged 84-95 years who were in the beginning to experience difficulties in daily activities were performed in accordance with the constructivist grounded theory method. Results: The core category, shifting between governing oneself or being governed by others, illustrates the complexity and the shifting of the experiences during the development of dependence. The categories struggling against the aging body, guarding one’s own independence and transferring the performance highlights different ways of governing in one’s life, whereas exercising self-determination is in the hands of others is a result of the increasing dependence. Conclusions: For community-dwelling older persons, the social context and the ageing body may influence the possibilities to exercise self-determination in daily life. Professionals and health care providers should enable and encourage older persons to exercise self-determination related their own healthcare.

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