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Calibrating and adjusting expectations in life: A grounded theory on how elderly persons with somatic health problems maintain control and balance in life and optimize well-being

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Author(s): Anne-Sofie Helvik | Valentina Cabral Iversen | Randi Steiring | Lillemor R-M Hallberg

Journal: International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health & Well-Being
ISSN 1748-2623

Volume: 6;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Grounded theory | well-being | life expectations | social network | cultural heritage | meaning in life | coping

ABSTRACT
Aim: This study aims at exploring the main concern for elderly individuals with somatic health problems and what they do to manage this. Method: In total, 14 individuals (mean = 74.2 years; range = 68–86 years) of both gender including hospitalized and outpatient persons participated in the study. Open interviews were conducted and analyzed according to grounded theory, an inductive theory-generating method. Results: The main concern for the elderly individuals with somatic health problems was identified as their striving to maintain control and balance in life. The analysis ended up in a substantive theory explaining how elderly individuals with somatic disease were calibrating and adjusting their expectations in life in order to adapt to their reduced energy level, health problems, and aging. By adjusting the expectations to their actual abilities, the elderly can maintain a sense of that they still have the control over their lives and create stability. The ongoing adjustment process is facilitated by different strategies and result despite lower expectations in subjective well-being. The facilitating strategies are utilizing the network of important others, enjoying cultural heritage, being occupied with interests, having a mission to fulfill, improving the situation by limiting boundaries and, finally, creating meaning in everyday life. Conclusion: The main concern of the elderly with somatic health problems was to maintain control and balance in life. The emerging theory explains how elderly people with somatic health problems calibrate their expectations of life in order to adjust to reduced energy, health problems, and aging. This process is facilitated by different strategies and result despite lower expectation in subjective well-being.
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