Att vara en helhet i ett sammanhang - gestaltning av mening och värde i ålderdomen

Detta är en avhandling från Department of Psychology, Lund University

Sammanfattning: The main aim of this thesis is to reach a deeper understanding of how personality and core beliefs relate to the experience of quality of life in old age, with regard to shaping meaning and worth. The thesis has been developed using a dialogue with older person’s reality, as it is lived in daily life. The thesis includes four studies. Quantitative as well as qualitative methods were used for analysis. Study 1 (n=100), examined the relationship between quality of life (LGC) and personality (GP:A). The results supported the hypothesis that personality traits were related to different dimensions of quality of life. The characteristics of personality that were of importance were trust factors that influenced the person’s view of herself, her own ability, and her view of other persons. Emotional stability also had importance through the person’s ability to use mature defenses and to develop a realistic view of herself and the world around her. Study 2. The aim was to identify and describe the core beliefs that were of importance for the experience of quality of life in old age, and to relate any observed differences among the core beliefs to experienced quality of life and personality. The method for the analysis was hermeneutic. On the basis of cluster solution in Study 1 a strategic sample (n=15), was selected for narrative interviews. The analysis focused on core beliefs and showed that beliefs about life, the self and others, as well as access to sources of power has significance for meaning and worth in old age. Study 3. The aim was to identify and describe the core beliefs of aging, value, and dependence of three female family members of different generations. The study also aimed at describing the differences in how the core beliefs can influence the dynamics within the relation and the quality of life of the oldest woman. The method for the analysis was hermeneutic. The sample consisted of three-generation of women from one family. The results showed that the three women had different core beliefs about aging and what makes a human being valuable. The concept of dependence was close to, and related to the core beliefs of value. The core belief of dependence varied among the women and affected what they imagined was required to reach an interdependent relationship.Study 4. The aim was to identify and describe the basic elements that contained the meaning in the narratives concerning the experienced quality of life in old age. The method of analysis was phenomenological. The sample consisted of 29 interviews, i.e. all interviews from Study 2 (n=15) and a complementary sample (n=14) added in order to give variance to the data. The results showed that meaningfulness and quality of life in old age consisted of five fundamental themes: engagement, balance, continuity, creating, and transcendence. All five existed in the three dimensions of life; i.e. Life as living - the dimension of activity, Life as experience - the psychological dimension and Life as energy - the existential dimension.A comprehensive hermeneutic interpretation of the results provided a theoretical model that will add to a deeper understanding of the qualities of life of the elderly seen in relation to personality and the formation of meaning and worth. To become a coherent whole is the comprehensive understanding of good quality of life in later life. For a person to be whole means that she lives in congruence with her implicit identity. If there is congruence between implicit identity and explicit expression, a sense of wholeness exists. Actions and expressions confirm the destiny and a continuous self-confirmation takes place, which creates a better understanding for the implicit identity and confidence in the explicit identity. Assurance of congruence between implicit and explicit identity exists on an emotional, existential level and the individual need not to be cognitively conscious of it, but it will affect conscious interpretations, emotions, and acts. To be in coherence constitutes a possibility to be part of a context, i.e. the arena where the individual can express her identity and receive confirmation. The context can be constituted on all levels of reality. Taken together these concepts make up the foundation for the experience of life quality.

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