The stress and coping experiences among Chinese rural older adults in welfare housing: through the lens of life review

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Social Work


Purposes: Responding to the growing needs of the largest aging population in the world, China has been experimenting interventions introduced from other countries to serve its older citizens. Using the life review approach, this study aimed to understand stress and coping experiences of a group of rural older adults living in public welfare housing, and to identify the effect of life review on their perceptions of quality of life.

Methods: This study used an experimental research design with qualitative interviews. Analyses mainly focused on qualitative interview data of participants in the experimental group (n=24). Quantitative analyses were conducted to compare changes in the measure of quality of life between the experimental group and the control group (n=22).

Results: Qualitative analyses indicated that salient life course stressors among rural Chinese old adults included financial strains, health concerns, and loss of loved ones. Such stressors were intertwined with historical and social changes they experienced in China. Coping strategies developed to survive a harsh young adulthood were used to deal with aging challenges and adaption to the welfare housing. Quantitative analysis found those who went through life review reported significant improvement in perceived quality of life compared to the control group.

Discussion: Life review showed preliminary acceptability and effectiveness among the most disadvantaged and marginalized older group in China. It suggests this approach can be adapted to help understand life experience of older adults from different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, and to bring about positive changes in their wellbeing.


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