The Influences of Diminishing Family and Community Ties on Experiences of the Elderly as They Face Physical Functional Decline

By Makie Kawabata.

Published by The International Journal of Aging and Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: February 24, 2016 Free Download

The purpose of this study is to explore how the elderly experience physical functional decline in contemporary Japanese society and to reveal how diminishing family and community ties are linked to their experiences in an increasingly urbanized and industrialized world. Eleven elderly were interviewed and asked to describe their everyday experiences as they face physical functional decline. Principles of constructive grounded theories were used to reconstruct the meanings of their experiences. Some experiences of the aged related closely to traditional cultural expectations while others were altered in tandem with a diminishing sense of community and family obligations under the influence of urbanization and contemporary lifestyles. The findings revealed that diminishing family and community ties caused the elderly several challenges including negotiating a life with limited social resources, projecting their future, and reconstructing their self-images to adjust to declining physical conditions. Japanese public policy should focus more on older people’s struggles with limited social resources rather than emphasizing the importance of family caregivers and traditional community ties to better respond to the issue of a rapidly aging population.

Keywords: Aging, Family and Community Ties, Physical Functional Decline

The International Journal of Aging and Society, Volume 6, Issue 1, March 2016, pp.45-58. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: February 24, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 512.023KB)).

Dr. Makie Kawabata

Professor, Department of Public Health Nursing, Shiga University of Medical Science, Otsu, Shiga, Japan