Seeking assistance in later life: how do older people evaluate their need for assistance?
AuthorsKrysia Canvin, Catherine A. MacLeod, Gill Windle and Amanda Sacker
Methods: We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with 40 adults aged 68–95. We invited participants to discuss any type of support, intervention, or service provision, whether medical, social, family-provided, paid or unpaid.
Findings: This paper reports older people’s accounts of how they evaluated their need for assistance. We found that the people in our sample engaged in a recursive process, evaluating their needs on an issue-by-issue basis. Participants’ progression through this process hinged on four factors: their acknowledgement of decline; the perceived impact of decline on their usual activities and independence; their preparedness to be a recipient of assistance; and, the opportunity to assert their need. In lieu of seeking assistance, participants engaged in self-management, but also received unsolicited or emergency assistance.
Conclusions: Older people’s adaptations to change and attempts to meet their needs without assistance mean that they do not present to services, limiting the local authority’s knowledge of their needs and ability to plan appropriate services. Our findings offer four stages for policymakers, service providers and carers to target to address the uptake of assistance.
Volume and page numbers47, 466-473