Van het Bolscher-Niehuis, M. J. T., Uitdehaag, M. J., Bergsma, A., & Francke, A. L. (2021). Self-managing physical and mental health: A qualitative study on older adults’ views and support needs in the Netherlands. Health & Social Care in the Community, 00, 1–9

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To help older adults stay healthy and independent, different stakeholders have developed self-management programmes that aim to support older adults in maintaining or improving physical and mental health. These programmes do not always match older adults’ needs and preferences.

The aim of this study was to gain insight into independently living older adults’ views and support needs in self-managing physical and mental health. A qualitative study was performed to collect data. Sixteen independent living older adults from the eastern part of the Netherlands were recruited through purposive sampling. The interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim and subjected to thematic analysis.

The results demonstrate that older adults who live independently believe that maintaining physical and mental health is an important pre-condition for remaining independent and living a meaningful life. They are positive about their health, tend to keep on going with an optimistic attitude and choose activities that suit them regarding type and intensity. The older adults believe deterioration is a normal part of getting older. They focus on preservation and adapt to their natural decline. However, some older adults struggle with their deterioration but prefer self-management rather than seeking professional support.