Land, History and People: Older people’s Stories about Meaningful Activities and Social Relations in Later Life
Social and humanistic gerontology have challenged the narratives of pessimism and decline embedded in bio-medical models of aging and care. One stream of criticism comes from literature about active ageing, and another from literature on person-centred care. A common concern is how to promote well-being during old age. This study explores the possibilities of promoting well-being and person-centred care practices in the context of home-based elderly care. It is based on qualitative interviews and observational data from two rural municipalities in Northern Norway. Using descriptive-interpretive qualitative research methods, we have explored the met and unmet needs of 28 older adults receiving home-based care services. The interviews revealed that their needs for medical treatment and practical assistance in the home were largely accommodated for. However, they had needs that frequently remained unaddressed, particularly the need for social interaction and for engaging in meaningful everyday activities outside the house. What is experienced as meaningful to our participants is embedded in local landscapes and practices, and in their personal biographies and bodily experiences. We show how carers and local communities may promote well-being by accommodating for embodied experiences that create a sense of connectedness to the land, history and people.