2. Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Tokushima University, Tokushima, Japan.
3. Minami Hospital, Tokushima, Japan.
Background: In contemporary Japan, the nuclear family continues to be the dominant family model which started during the high economic growth era (1955~1973). This situation diminished the opportunities for children to experience and know the life style of elderly persons. Sharing experiences and knowledge of older persons can provide helpful hints about how to live healthier lives. This study described the distinctive characteristics of an elderly person who is living a fulfilling life despite chronic illness.
Methods: In August 2017, nine elderly community-dwelling elderly who met the inclusion criteria of being chronically ill and leading positive and self-fulfilling lives were selected. They showed good sleep quality and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) scores, and managed to lead positive and self-fulfilling lives. This study was about one of the nine elderly persons whose narrative distinctly described the evolution of life events and experiences of personal living. Analysis followed the case description method.
Results: After a major health crisis, the selected participant realized an appreciation of his own mortality, providing the opportunity to re-examinine his life habits and discover new pleasures through interactions with friends. Despite the changes from a major health crisis, he maintained a positive outlook on life and strove to be forward-looking, inspired by the parting words of his older brother who died in World War II. It appeared that chronic illness at a later stage in life leads persons to reflect on their past, revisit their philosophy of life and the ways they lived their lives.
Conclusions: In order to lead self-fulfilling lives even while disease-stricken, older persons need a setting that allows them to re-tell their life stories often through reminiscence therapy. By listening to these stories, the children and their guardians can have the opportunity to appreciate and re-examine their own contemporary lifestyles and consider their future courses in life. This typical case exemplified having a chronic illness and living life positively.
Keywords: Chronically ill elderly persons, active lifestyle, qualitative research, case description study