SURVEY REPORT ON THE WELLBEING OF INDEPENDENT ELDERLY INDIVIDUALS IN IRELAND

Introduction

Background

Indeed the aging of a population is a global phenomenon. The main factors that enhance the aging of a population include increased life expectancies, increased survival after childbirth, as well as decreased fertility rates (Gavrilov, L.A. and, Heuveline, P., 2003, 32). These changes, which have occurred gradually over the years, increase the need for the assessment of the requirements of aging individuals and the wants of their caregivers if any (Walters, K., Iliffe, S., Tai, S.S. and Orrell, M., 2000, 507).

 In Ireland, however, the average male life expectancy is 76.8 years while that of women is 81.6 years. This would obviously culminate in an increase in the proportion of the country’s elderly (aged 65 plus) population in comparison with that of people aged between 15 and 64 years. As at 2011, it was found that the number of individuals aged 65 and above in Ireland was 535,393, out of a population of roughly 4.8 million. This makes up approximately 11.2%

Objectives

The following paper seeks to give a report compiled from a survey carried out through a questionnaire which aims at the quantifying the needs as well as the wellbeing of the aged. The primary objective of this study is to determine baseline information on issues of life quality, which include physical morbidity and impairment, social wellbeing, future need for short term and long term care, as well as the presence of societal, familial, and personal caregiving resources. The information acquired will at least provide a picture of the needs of the Irish 65+ elderly population.

Methodology

Study design

The first phase of the survey employed the use of telephone interviews with senior citizens over the age of 65 years.

Sampling

We used the questionnaire to locate senior citizens who were living independently and were neither under the care of social services or members of particular social support groups. The sample used was obtained from a register maintained by the local Civil Registration Authorities and was composed of 225 Irish senior citizens within the Rathbeg region of Dublin. We used a stratified random sampling technique (Foddy, W., 1994) which ensured that the study population was well distributed with regard to age, gender, and region. Thus, the primary objective was to acquire a sample which would include elderly individuals from varying social classes, i.e., those between 65-74 years, those 75years old and upwards. The survey was expected to be carried out over a period of approximately three weeks.

Survey (Method of Issue)

This survey was formulated as a creative research method, which would help us acquire both quantitative and qualitative data, thus attaining a greater understanding of community participation as individual experiences. It would be an interview-administered interview and thus will involve face to face dialogue between the interviewer and interviewee. We also took particular measures to establish rapport with the respondents, which were as follows: the sensitive framing of questions and giving them substantial information on the survey’s purpose.

Questionnaire

The primary Interview Schedule was composed of ten questions. Various kinds of inquiries were made including those of the fixed response and semi-structured varieties. In a broad sense, it ought to have covered the following: physical, psychological, and social wellbeing, as well as whether or not the individuals of interest possess preferences for future care provision. Multiple drafts of the questionnaire were made before it was finally ready for testing. Furthermore, we carried out one trial round of interviewing before finalizing the questionnaire.

Questions Asked

Physical Wellbeing

How would you rate your overall health at present?                                                            

(A) Excellent                                                                (D) Poor

(B) Good                                                                       (E) Not sure

(C) Fair                                                                  

Has the doctor ever told you that you have…? Yes No
High Blood Pressure? (A) (B)
Coronary heart disease? (A) (B)
Diabetes? (A) (B)
Asthma? (A) (B)
Chronic Bronchitis? (A) (B)

Economic Status

  • Which one of the four statements best describes how well you get by with your income? 

(A) I can’t make ends meet         (C) I have enough, with a little extra sometimes                                                                                                        (B) I have just enough, no more   (D) I always have money left over                                                                                                                                                                                          

 Social Wellbeing

  • How many friends or family members do you hear from at least once a month?

(A)   9 or more                                                   (D) 2

(B)   5-8                                                              (E) 1

(C)   3-4                                                              (F) None

  • How many friends or relatives do you feel you can call on in case you need help?

(A)   9 or more                                                   (D) 2

(B)   5-8                                                              (E) 1

(C)   3-4                                                              (F) None

Psychological and Emotional Wellbeing

How much of the time during the past month have you…? None  A little  Some  Most All
Been very nervous? (A) (A) (A) (A) (A)
Felt depressed and low? (B) (B) (B) (B) (B)
Felt calm and peaceful? (C) (C) (C) (C) (C)
Been a joyful individual? (D) (D) (D) (D) (D)

Preference for future care provision

Which one of the following would you prefer for future health care provision? Yes No
Hospital Care (A (A)
Hospice Care (B (B)
Home Care (C) (C)

Data Preparation

 The process primarily entailed data integration and standardization, the creation of an intuitive workflow, validation, transformation, data virtualization to allow access to digital data sets and the replacement of corrupted data sources with clean ones (Sapsford, R. and Jupp, V. eds., 2006).

A lot of care was taken during data entry, during which we entered data two consecutive times to check against the original record in case any discrepancies occurred. Scores that were out of the specified range were readily identified and handled with the use of a software program. The evaluation of response frequencies was also carried out, as well as the cross-tabulation of selected variables in which responses on one variable had to coincide with individual responses on another, for instance, in the case of gender- specific diseases.

Data Analysis

As stated earlier, the depictive sample consisted of two hundred and twenty-five elderly individuals, who were mostly home-based. Around two hundred were successfully contacted during the fieldwork. Out of the remaining 200, 186 responded. Nine declined to participate in the survey while the other eight questionnaires remained unanswered, presumably because of physical or mental impairment that limited response, or because of odd timing. Therefore, the response rate was 82.67%.Of vital importance is that 55.2% of the respondents were male whereas 44.8% were female. The highest level of education achieved for 48% of the individuals interviewed was primary education while only 13% had gone beyond this level of education attainment. 

Ethics and Informed Consent

The objectives of the survey were made known to senior citizens prior to the interview and their consent sought in order to commence the process. Moreover when our interviewers got to a home, they would take the time to again explain the purpose of the interview before seeking permission to enter their homes. Written consent was also obtained. Furthermore all the information collected during the survey is considered confidential and identification data was not used during storage.

Results

Physical Wellbeing

The following were the results regarding impairment, or lack thereof, in carrying of activities of daily living, as well as the utilization of health services. Some the respondents reported that they had no physical impairment. A whopping 71% reported otherwise. Of crucial importance in this case, however, is the discovery that women were more likely to acquire disorders associated with severe impairment, owing to the fact that they have a longer lifespan (Maklakov, A.A. and, Lummaa, V., 2013, 717). In addition, around 77% of the respondents were positive for a chronic condition that they expected would get worse as they advanced in age. The three most common chronic diseases were reported to be as follows: Diabetes (38%), Heart Disease (19%) and Hypertension (20%)

Social Wellbeing

A literature review, carried out by O’Luanaigh, C and Lawlor, B.A et al, shows that loneliness and social isolation is common in elderly people, presumably due to the fact that they have few friends and a great number of impairments. Results in this particular survey indicated that the proportion of socially neglected elderly individuals was 46.4%. People with only friendship ties made up 13% compared with 18.6% who had only family ties. Those who had retained both made up 22%. Regarding social wellbeing, there was a marginal variation between the two sexes, with 43% of females feeling socially isolated compared to 36% in males.

Psychological Wellbeing

The survey found that 64% of elderly individuals experienced more positive moments than negative ones on a typical day. Around 76% of the respondents reported that they had somebody they could turn to when they were most in need. After overlooking the slight differences, the findings were observed to go hand in hand with a survey carried out, in conjunction the European Union and the UN, back in 2014 which found that the country (Ireland) had an overall life experience ranking of 7.5 out of 10 (McGreevy, R., 2014, 1)

Preferences for future care provisions

The number of individuals who were then residing in an ordinary residential home as well as that of those on the waiting for admission into nursing homes. The data collected showed that the demand for nursing home and palliative hospice care increased with age as well as the extent of physical/mental impairment. An overwhelming 76% of the respondents, however, preferred home care, presumably due to family ties, while the remaining 24% reported that they would be okay with the other care provision options.

Conclusion

The above report grants us a clear picture of the current status of the population aged 65years and above with regard to physical morbidity and extent of impairment, the presence, or lack thereof, of social support structures such as friendship and family ties, psychological wellbeing and generally happiness, as well as preferences of future caregiving options. 

This report’s findings indicate that 77% are positive for a chronic condition whose effect on their ability to engage in activities of daily life ranged from mild to severe. The proportion of socially neglected individuals was found to be 46.4%. It is believed that loneliness is a risk factor for developing depression (O’Luanaigh C and Lawlor BA, 2008, 1218). It also poses the risk of an increased likelihood of a reduced lifespan (Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB and Layton JB, 2010, 7). Therefore the social wellbeing indeed goes hand in hand with the quality of life (Moro, M., Brereton, F., Ferreira, S. and Clinch, J.P., 2008, 448).

Regarding psychological wellbeing, it was reported that 64% were happy with their day to day experiences and would easily attempt to make the most of the bad situations, or rather look for the silver lining. Such findings usually suggest that one is in a good psychological state (Kline, P., 2013). Furthermore, with regard to the findings most elderly individuals would prefer to receive home care as opposed to as modes of care provision. Therefore, we anticipate that the conclusions of this survey will prove instrumental in the assessment of aging community’s prerequisites, the requirements of their caregivers, as well as the wants future healthcare-providing setups will be subjected to.

References

Foddy, W., 1994. Constructing questions for interviews and questionnaires: Theory and practice in social research. Cambridge University press.

Gavrilov, L.A. and Heuveline, P., 2003. Aging of population. The encyclopedia of population1, pp. 32-37.

Holt-Lunstad, J., and Smith, T.B., Layton JB (2010).” Social relationships and mortality risk. pp.7.

Kline, P., 2013. Handbook of psychological testing. Routledge.

Luanaigh, C.Ó. and Lawlor, B.A., 2008. Loneliness and the health of older people. International journal of geriatric psychiatry23(12), pp. 1213-1221.

Maklakov, A.A. and Lummaa, V., 2013. Evolution of sex differences in lifespan and aging: causes and constraints. BioEssays35(8), pp. 717-724.

McGreevy, R., 2014. Irish Rank highly for quality of life in EU. THE IRISH TIMES, Thursday, March, pp.1.

Moro, M., Brereton, F., Ferreira, S. and Clinch, J.P., 2008. Ranking quality of life using subjective well-being data. Ecological Economics65(3), pp.448-460.

Sapsford, R. and Jupp, V. eds., 2006. Data collection and analysis. Sage.

Walters, K., Iliffe, S., Tai, S.S. and Orrell, M., 2000. Assessing needs from patient, carer, and professional perspectives: the Camberwell Assessment of Need for Elderly people in primary care. Age and Ageing29(6), pp. 505-510. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *