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Health Within Limitations: Qualitative Study of the Social Aspects of Resilience in Old Age


Ageing can be conceptualized as a series of transitions, each bringing about gains or losses. The actual experience of a life event is dependent also on a person’s resilience, which is importantly reflected in his/her subjective health. Although recognizing the importance of personal factors, this article focused on the social resources for resilience. The main aim was to identify the social conditions of resilient healthy ageing that could be promoted among elderly and at the wider societal level. A twelve-week fall prevention training for the elderly recruited from the Pensioners’ Association of Slovenia, senior clubs and day care centres within the Ljubljana region was organized at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Health Sciences. The convenience sample of 25 relatively healthy and active people (average age 70.1 years) participated and were included also in the qualitative study. They agreed to take part in semi-structured interviews. The suggested themes were ageing, health/illness and healthcare. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcriptions were analysed following the qualitative content analysis. When confronting adversity, the participants’ exposed the importance of socializing, active engagement in social support networks and intergenerational ties. These social coping resources/strategies were analytically identified as thematic categories of the central concept - engagement in social life. Through identified social aspects of resilience, the findings importantly contributed to clarify some of the dimensions of social determinants of health. From the quality of life perspective, it is important that state and community authorities acknowledge the elderly’s perceptions and form policy interventions to secure and enhance circumstances which allow their engagement in social life.

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The research was part of the project “Active and healthy ageing” that was supported by the Slovenian Research Agency (project code: L3-0191) and Krka d.d., Novo mesto.

Conflict of Interest

Barbara Domajnko and Majda Pahor declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. The whole research project was approved by The National Medical Ethics Committee of the Republic of Slovenia. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Ethical Treatment of Experimental Subjects (Animal and Human)

No animal or human studies were carried out by the authors for this article.

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Correspondence to Barbara Domajnko.

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Domajnko, B., Pahor, M. Health Within Limitations: Qualitative Study of the Social Aspects of Resilience in Old Age. Ageing Int 40, 187–200 (2015).

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  • Ageing
  • Health
  • Resilience
  • Social aspects