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Self-reliance as factor of quality of life of elderly people living in long-term care institutions

Review

Lithuanian society is aging, and need for social services for elderly people is constantly increasing as it allows enjoying better quality of life. Elderly people (+65) who become socially dependent have possibility to move to the residential care institution. The scenario of moving into long-term care institution has big and often negative impact on life quality of elderly person.
Empirical research data was collected 2011–2013. The age of participants was 60–92 years at the moment of interview. The data was collected during multiple visits to residential long-term care institutions in different regions of Lithuania (both in rural and urban areas). The conducted interviews were semi-structured; participants' life story narrative was major focus.
Constructivist grounded theory methodology (Charmaz, 2006) was the tool to analyse subjective quality of life, values and attitudes of elderly socially dependent residents. In the process of constructing grounded theory seven factors of life quality were identified. The most important factor is independence (self-reliance) understood as capability and wish of the elderly person to make decisions that have direct impact on her/his everyday life (day regime, activities, and aspects of private finances management). "Independence" as one of the main analytical categories is analysed through the example of life story of Ruta using particular elements of biographical research on micro level. Capability to stay independent while participating in care process, maintain vital social relations, and consciously reflect on changes in last stage of human life have ultimate meaning for elderly people. Care professionals should be aware of the need of methods and skills how to effectively manage situations when meaning of life, apathy, boredom, preparing for death become ultimately important.

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