“Feeling More Self-Confident, Cheerful and Safe”. Experiences from a Health-Promoting Intervention in Community Dwelling Older Adults — A Qualitative Study
Studies show that regular exercise in combination with nutritional support can be effective in managing sarcopenia, which is age-related involuntary loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength. Qualitative investigations of participants’ experiences from interventions in this domain are scarce. In this study, we explored older persons’ experiences from an intervention designed to prevent sarcopenia, with the aim of capturing the participants’ thoughts and opinions.
A qualitative study embedded in the multicenter randomized clinical trial The Vitality and Vigor in the Elderly study, VIVE2. Focus group interviews were conducted. Manifest and latent content analyses were performed.
Community dwelling older adults (n=20) 71-86 years of age with minor limitations in mobility.
The experiences from the intervention were categorized and interpreted in one overall theme “Feeling more self-confident, cheerful and safe”. The theme encompasses the categories psychological effects of participating in the intervention, physical effects of participating in the intervention, the importance of social support and the importance of a tailored set-up. The participants described their motives for participating in the intervention as being based on concerns regarding the negative health effects of continuing a sedentary lifestyle, difficulties of getting started on their own and lack of confidence in accomplishing change on their own. Participants also expressed that one main objective for participating was to lose weight.
In this study we have captured the experiences of older adults with minor mobility limitations who participated in a lifestyle intervention. The experiences are interpreted in one overall theme “Feeling more self-confident, cheerful and safe”. The central understanding of the participants’ experiences was that the intervention affected them in several ways, both psychologically and physically, and that supporting factors included the social support, which became a prerequisite for success. A noticeable finding was the discrepancy between the motive of the participants, to lose weight, and the aim of the study, to improve muscle function. The expectation to lose weight seems to reflect what is commonly known as to be healthy. To our knowledge, at least in Sweden, there are no campaigns or public information highlighting the risks of sarcopenia and the complex issue of if, and when weight loss is desirable for older individuals. This finding highlights the importance of providing such information to this target group. The findings in this study provide valuable knowledge for research teams, practitioners and decision makers when designing and setting objectives for health-promoting interventions for older individuals.
Key wordsOlder adults health-promoting intervention qualitative nutrition exercise
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