Individual and social identity of residents of old people's homes in Slovenia

Marija Zaletel 1 , Tina Levec 1 , Andreja Zajec 1 ,  and Lijana Kragelj 2
  • 1 Zdravstvena fakulteta, Univerza v Ljubljani, Zdravstvena pot 5, 1000 Ljubljana
  • 2 Center za javno zdravje, Medicinska fakulteta Univerze v Ljubljani, Zaloška 4, 1000 Ljubljan

Individual and social identity of residents of old people's homes in Slovenia

Aim: The aim of the study was to assess the degree of individual and social identity of the elderly in institutional care. The paper analyses the data, hitherto unavailable in Slovenia, in order to contribute to the caregivers' knowledge of how to help their clients preserve and maintain their dignity, self-respect and identity.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted during the period December 2005-January 2006. Included in the study were 164 elderly residents of 20 old people's homes. The study instrument incorporated 36 statements addressing individual (15), narrow social (18), and broad social identity (3), which the respondents were asked to agree or disagree with. The Mann-Whitney and Kruskal-Wallis tests were used to facilitate data analysis of the respondents' gender, age, education and original residence environment.

Results: The results of the study showed no correlation between the degree of individual identity and the respondents' gender, age, education and original residence environment. The correlation between the narrow (p=0.007) and broad (p=0.016) social identity and the residents' educational level, however, was statistically significant. In the latter two cases identity was least pronounced in most educated respondents.

Conclusion: Educational level of old people's home residents correlates positively with their social identity crisis. The findings may contribute to caregivers understanding and recognition of their role in assisting the more educated elderly effectively alleviate or prevent their social identity crisis. In view of the foregoing, the residents' quality of life and their overall well-being can be improved.

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