Land, History and People: Older people’s Stories about Meaningful Activities and Social Relations in Later Life

  • Helga EggebøEmail author
  • Mai Camilla Munkejord
  • Walter Schönfelder


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.


Home care Person-centred care Social care Ageing Well-being Older people 



We would like to thank the municipal project partners for their participation in the project. Thanks to Susanne Bygnes and Annelieke Driessen for their valuable comments on earlier versions of this paper. We also thank the research group on innovation and welfare at the Nordland Research Institute.

Author’s Contribution

All named authors for the article have made a substantial contribution to the conception, design, analysis and interpretation of data, and to the revision of the article. All authors’ contributions have been critical for important intellectual content and all authors have approved the version to be published.

Funding Information

This work was supported by The Regional Research Fund Northern Norway [grant number 257019], which is part of The Research Council of Norway. The funding source had no involvement in study design, the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the article for publication.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Statement of Ethical Approval

This study was approved by the Norwegian Centre for Research Data (NSD), reference number 48366. Approval from NSD is the appropriate level of ethical review according to Norwegian law.

Statement of Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helga Eggebø
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mai Camilla Munkejord
    • 2
    • 3
  • Walter Schönfelder
    • 2
  1. 1.Nordland Research InstituteBodøNorway
  2. 2.Department for Child Welfare and Social WorkUiT The Arctic University of NorwayTromsøNorway
  3. 3.NORCEBergenNorway

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