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Self-care programs for older adults living at home should consider their experiences, attitudes and the meanings they attribute to care

Lommi M, Matarese M, Alvaro R, et al.  The experiences of self-care in community-dwelling older people: A meta-synthesis  International Journal of Nursing Studies. 2015. 1854-1867

Review question

What factors should be considered to better implement self-care interventions amongst older adults living at home?


The aging population represents a challenge for social welfare, healthcare systems and informal caregivers.  

Most current healthcare programs for the elderly population promote self-care to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle within their own homes. However, many factors affect their ability to do this, such as the individual’s health status, functional capacity and self-care abilities, as well as the availability of healthcare services and self-care abilities.

As such, it is important to take into consideration home-dwelling older adults’ perspectives on self-care in order to effectively implement these programs and prevent self-care challenges.

How the review was done

A detailed search of a number of electronic databases for studies published up to 2015 was conducted. Studies that focused on interventions that addressed self-care promotion in adults aged 65 or over who are cognitively intact and live independently in their own homes were included in the review.

A total of 4,001 articles were identified in searches, and 11 studies were included in the review after assessments for eligibility. The included studies were conducted in the Scandinavian countries, U.S., and Taiwan, targeting mostly middle-class older adults.

The authors did not acknowledge any funding sources for this review.

What the researchers found

Older adults’ decisions about self-care are influenced by their past experiences and their views about the future. An assessment of their attitudes towards life and aging is required before implementing any self-care intervention. 

Health-promoting self-care programs should be designed according to the ability of older adults to carry out the activities independently while adjusting to the aging process.

Older adults should be encouraged to maintain healthy relationships with family and friends to promote self-care and wellness in their own homes.


Self-care activities for older adults living at home are designed to maintain wellness in a social environment in order to support them to age in their own homes. Older adults’ perspectives towards life and the future, and their ability to participate in activities should be considered prior to implementing a self-care intervention. Further research is required to understand the self-care experiences of older adults from different cultures, education levels and social backgrounds.

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DISCLAIMER These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (info@mcmasteroptimalaging.org).

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