Dignity key in care for older people
Published on 07 February 2012 01:00 PM
The way older people come to terms with health problems varies considerably, so health providers must avoid taking a blanket view of how to help.
That is according to new research exploring the impact illness and growing older has on people's lives.
The research, funded by UK Research Councils' New Dynamics of Ageing programme (NDA), found adapting to physical limitations can be straining, and a person's sense of dignity can easily be lost.
People's sense of 'self' is affected by the limitations imposed by their age and illnesses, the study found.
'Growing old and coming to terms with illnesses is complex and demanding at times - physically, mentally and emotionally,' said Dr Liz Lloyd, who carried out the study alongside colleagues.
'When health goes, it can come as quite a shock.'
Dr Lloyd believes the research shows people's ideas of dignity and independence vary dramatically, depending on their life experiences, abilities and relationships.
As a result 'you can't impose a blanket view of what dignified care is', said Dr Lloyd. She went on: 'Of course, there are certain standards that should apply in all circumstances but enhancing dignity needs a lot more than guaranteeing minimum standards.'
She maintains healthcare providers must not assume there is one way of helping older people cope with the ageing process.
The study also highlighted the difficulties people experience in having to become dependent on others. One participant, Mary, told researchers: 'Inside I feel as though I ought to be able to do things. But I'm not and it's hard to accept.'
Copyright Press Association 2012