Problem-solving experiences among elders living alone in eastern Taiwan

Hsiu-Hsin Tsai, Yun-Fang Tsai
Journal of Clinical Nursing 2007, 16 (5): 980-6

AIM: To explore problem-solving experiences among older people living alone in eastern Taiwan.

BACKGROUND: Elders living alone in Taiwan have a low participation rate in government social support programmes. Providing sufficient care for this population of elders requires knowing not only their problems, but also how and when they seek help solve their problems. Design. Qualitative research was used to gain a deeper understanding of the problem-solving experiences of older people living alone.

METHODS: Elders living alone (n = 9) were recruited from a remote area of Taiwan. Data were gathered in audiotaped, semi-structured interviews and analysed by content analysis.

RESULTS: Participants used both internal and external resources to solve problems through an appraisal process. Their internal resources included self-perception of health status, preventive coping strategies, flexible coping ability and being resigned to one's situation. Their external resources included both human and environmental resources. Based on their lived experience, participants appraised the usefulness of both internal and external resources before deciding whether to seek help from external resources.

CONCLUSION: In Chinese society, maintaining a balance between internal and external resources is an important mechanism for elders in solving problems.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Our findings may enhance policy makers' and healthcare providers' understanding of the problem-solving experiences of elders who live alone in Taiwan. In practical terms, these findings can be used to improve the elderly people's use of support systems in their community.


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