Integrity, despair, locus of control and life satisfaction among elderly residents of homes for adults

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Virginia Tech

As the number of elderly individuals in the population continues to increase, the demand for alternatives to group care settings will also increase. Homes for adults represent an example of the diversification of long term care options by providing care to elderly individuals in a setting that is more home-like and less institutionalized than traditional nursing homes. Since previous research is often limited to nursing home residents, the study of home for adult residents offers a fresh approach to sample selection, and provides reassurance that the needs of elderly residents are indeed being met not only in terms of custodial care but also in a therapeutic sense that enhances life satisfaction.

In this study, the relationship of integrity/despair, locus of control, and life satisfaction was examined in a sample of elderly persons who reside in homes for adults. The participants were 17 males and 83 females, ranging in age from 60 to 95 and reporting fair to good health. It was hypothesized that elderly individuals who felt in control of their lives would also be more satisfied with life, Additionally, it was proposed that elderly individuals who looked back on their lives and were not satisfied would be afraid to die and would feel little or no control over their lives. Death anxiety, as measured by the Death Anxiety scale (Templer, 1970) was used to define integrity/despair. The indicator of locus of control was the Mastery Scale (Pearlin & Schooler, 1978), and life satisfaction was assessed with the Philadelphia Geriatric Center Morale Scale (Lawton, 1975).

Correlation analysis yielded the following results: (a) the more internal an individual’s locus of control score, the lower the death anxiety score, (b) the more internal the locus of control, the higher the life satisfaction score, and (c) the higher the life satisfaction, the lower the death anxiety score. These findings supported the hypotheses and indicate that elderly individuals who feel in control are also satisfied with their lives and are not afraid to die.