When older adults have to transition to a new lifestyle, they often feel as though they are losing control over their own faculties. Whether they're moving into a retirement or assisted living community or enlisting the help of home care, such changes can bring about anxiety and even depression. A new study out of Australia finds that accepting things that cannot be changed can make a huge impact on quality of life for seniors going through such transitions.
A study on happiness
Researchers from Deakin University, Australia, published their findings about acceptance and happiness in the Journal of Happiness Studies. They looked at the difference of levels of life satisfaction and "perceived control" among 202 older adults, half of whom were living in residential care and the other half whom were aging in place. To understand life satisfaction among these sample groups, the researchers analyzed participants' standard of living, health, achievements in life, personal relationships, sense of safety, community connections, security for the future and spirituality or religious beliefs.
The social scientists were interested to learn what factors contributed to satisfaction during the senior years. They found that "perceived control" was the main key, meaning that older adults who saw themselves as in control of more aspects of their lives were happier. Perceived control was comprised of two main components: primary control, which is the ability to make changes to one's environment, and secondary control, the ability to make cognitive changes within oneself to adapt to the environment.
"In order to protect the well-being of older individuals, adaptation involves both a sense of control and the active acceptance of what cannot be changed," the authors wrote.
Better off at home
After studying the two groups of adults, researchers came to the conclusion that perceived control was typically higher for older adults living within the community compared to those who had moved into residential facilities.
While many older adults may prefer to age in place, most will need assistance from family caregivers or home care agencies in order to remain safe and secure. Home care workers can help older adults with everything from daily chores like shopping and cooking to more medical tasks, such as medication management or taking care of personal hygiene.