Active ageing in the fourth age: The experiences and perspectives of older persons in long-term care

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Aim: This article reports upon a research study whose aim was to evaluate the running of an active ageing programme for older persons residing in a care home for older persons in Malta.

Method: The research study opted for a multi-method research design. The first phase consisted of carrying out observation of the active ageing programme over a two-month period. The second phase was conducting semi-structured interviews with participants and facilitators.

Results: First, that for active ageing programme in care homes to be successful the activities must be meaningful to residents. Second, that active ageing programme in care homes has the potential to improve the levels of social and emotional wellbeing, whilst also having benefits for facilitators. Finally, that active ageing programmes include a number of challenges - namely, further training for all staff in gerontological and geragogical principles, overlooking family relatives, and enabling even frail residents to join in the activities.

Conclusion. Active ageing policies should go beyond a ‘third age’ lens in their endeavour to improve the quality of life of incoming and current older persons and focus more assiduously on frail and vulnerable elders. The key factor in organising active ageing programmes in a care home that are successful in enabling good quality interaction is the ability of planners to have insight on the subjective world of residents so that they gain the sensitivity and skills to coordinate activities that are meaningful to residents.

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