Quality of life in elders living alone in Taiwan

Pao-Chen Lin, Miaofen Yen, Susan Jane Fetzer
Journal of Clinical Nursing 2008, 17 (12): 1610-7

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to identify and describe predictors of QOL of elders who live alone in Taiwan.

BACKGROUND: Despite a growing population of elders who live alone, research on their quality of life, important for policy decisions and health care provider interventions is virtually absent.

METHODS: A descriptive correlational design surveyed 192 Taiwanese elders living alone, selected at random from urban and rural areas. During home visits elders completed the WHO-QOL-BREF, Social Support Scale and Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) in addition to providing demographic data.

RESULTS: Multiple linear regressions showed that six variables predicted physical health and the psychological wellbeing QOL domains, accounting for 74.5 and 60.1% of the variance, respectively. Four variables predicted 46.7 and 34.3% of the environmental and the social relationship QOL domains, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Elders who live alone in rural areas and suffer from depression are at high risk for a low quality of life. However, elders living alone reported a better quality of life than their institutionalized counterparts. Interventional research and policy decisions focused on treatment for depression and providing social support networks, as these elders age, will be particularly important.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: By understanding variables associated with elders' quality of life, nurses can coordinate interventions to improve their quality of life. Poorly educated rural women who live alone are particularly vulnerable. Nursing assessment of quality of life indicators and implementation of strategies for increased social support are needed for high-risk elders.


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