Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Adaptability (Psychology) in old age, Self-perception in old age, Home care services -- Utilization


As people age, they are faced with roles and activities that challenge their intellectual or physical capabilities. People, however, are pragmatic by nature; they seek to use what "works" when faced with predicaments that test their mettle. The purpose of this research has been to understand how aged home health care clients try to maintain valued selves in the face of their declining functional abilities. Data were drawn from qualitative methodological techniques (e.g., participant observation, observational data, and unstructured interviews). In order to provide some structure to this data, a theoretical orientation grounded in symbolic interaction was used in lieu of activity theory, mainly because of activity theory's inability to "get at" older persons' "definitions of the situation" (or, what it is like to be old and debilitated from the perspectives of the older persons themselves). A review of the literature revealed important information concerning: (a) adaptation techniques used by older and chronically ill persons, and (b) differing opinions of disease, health, and life satisfaction that exist among older and chronically ill persons, their doctors, and social workers. The Social Histories served as a backdrop to the "Findings" chapter, which focused on: (a) descriptive accounts of day-to-day activities; (b) feelings of illness and isolation; and (c) coping/adaptation responses used by aged home health care clients as they attempted to maintain/preserve positive images of self, despite limitations in functioning. In conclusion, my aged subjects not only replaced their declining abilities with others that were less demanding, but they also-without apparent reflection-were able to maintain positive images of self by virtue of their participation in activities and roles that made them feel confident and competent.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

First Advisor

Keith B. Crew, Chair


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Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (v, 89 leaves ; 28 cm)



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Sociology Commons