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Understanding Well-being as a Means of Empowering Older people. Phil Noone Programme Director Lecturer NUIG. Introduction.

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understanding well being as a means of empowering older people

Understanding Well-being as a Means of Empowering Older people

Phil Noone

Programme Director Lecturer NUIG

  • In Ireland, 11.3% of the population is aged 65 years and over ( Central Statistics Office 2004), with a higher proportion, 13.14% living in the Western Health Board Region. This is projected to increase to 16.6% in 2011.
  • Demographic changes
  • Policy chances
  • Health care expenditure
  • And the wishes of older people to live in their own homes and be empowered to live independently and with dignity make the study of well-being timely.
this study
This Study

Aim: To gain understanding of how older people experience well-being in their own social contexts

Sample: 23 older people, purposeful sample, who live in a community setting

Date Collection: Semi-structured interviews

Analysis: Thematic analysis


Well-being emerged as


  • Connectedness to place
  • Connectedness to people
  • Connectedness to life
connectedness to place
Connectedness to Place

A strong connectedness to place was evident which strongly influenced feelings of well-being


“I was bred, born and reared here and I’d be going along the road and I’d be watching the lambeen’s to come of the fields”


“I like to sit outside the dark in the frost and I love the stars.. Power of nature…marvellous, marvellous..

connectedness to place1
Connectedness to Place


  • “.. And the summer it’s lovely.. We sit in the summer and watch the swallows coming and going.. I like to watch them and they always return to the sheds below.. I love to sit out there and watch them and they take no notice of me”
  • “oh the birds, the birds and I always feed the birds in the morning – it’s the first thing I do when I get up…”
connectedness to place2
Connectedness to Place


  • “Its great.. I never had a house in England and here it’s a happy house .. We’re quiet happy here and its all right”


  • “before we got this house we were back and ore from England”
  • “ I was reared on the road and I spent a long time on the road and we were happy – they were happy happy times”
connectedness to people
Connectedness to People

Family, social roles and relationships played a big part in well-being for older people


  • “people had time for each other”
  • “you’d be short of sugar and you’d go up for tea and they’d come down for something else and that the way it was”
  • “we’d good neighbours and we needed each other”
connectedness to people1
Connectedness to People


  • “we were all sending money home”
  • “we’d send a pound each, five of us and I sent that every week untill I got married”


  • “ever one of them knows me”
connectedness to life
Connectedness to Life

Most frequently demonstrated in accounts of determination to live and ability to adapt to changing circumstances


“don’t pity yourself”

“but you have to get on with it”

“I’d say its up to the people themselves”

“it means everything to me to be able to get up in the morning and go out there”

connectedness to life1
Connectedness to Life


  • “If it’s a hard one don’t lie down, keep fighting”
  • “with the sticks I manage”
facilitating factors of well being
Facilitating Factors of Well-being

Being empowered to:

  • Be independent – not dependant
  • Access resources- information, entitlements, money, housing improvements etc.
  • Get about – transport
  • Meet people, be valued and be part of community life
factors inhibiting well being
Factors Inhibiting Well-being

Disempowered by:

  • Vulnerability
  • Poverty
  • Loneliness
  • Violence
  • Bureaucracy
  • Inequity
  • Access
living monday to fridays lady with arthritis aged 68years
“LIVING MONDAY TO FRIDAYS” Lady with arthritis, aged 68years

Empowerment and disempowerment co-existing together within well-being

“and when there’s a bank holiday there’s no centre.. I don’t like Saturday and Sunday any more cause there’s no activity or nothing gong on.. Long boring days and I like it when the week starts again .. I hate bank holidays its like everything else the cycle going around and everything going around in a circle.. And I live from Thursday to Monday and Monday to Thursday..”P13.11.

linked to
Linked to

Antonovsky (1979) Sense of Coherence:

  • Comprehensibility
  • Manageability
  • Meaningfulness

Unraveling the concept of well-being and incorporating empowerment strategies within Antonovsky’s framework, has the potential to enable older people to increase control over their own lives, their health and well-being.


“Man does not cease to play because

he grows old, man grows old

because he ceases to play”

George Bernard Shaw