Although most seniors aged 85+ live relatively independently in the community, research on this age group tends to focus on the negative aspects of aging. This study looks instead at seniors aged 85 and older who are living well and semi-independently in their communities with the help of an informal care provider. The study aims to identify the mechanisms that allow them to live with dignity and autonomy in their own homes and remain socially included in their communities. We conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 16 individuals aged 85 to 94 years and their primary informal support-persons in Southwestern Ontario, from Hamilton to Chatham. The result is evidence-based information about how the “oldest-old” and their caregivers manage to overcome problems seniors experience with daily tasks such as mobility, transportation and cooking. The research identifies optimal environments in which these “caring relationships” can be sustained and in which seniors can flexibly manage daily life and continue to stay in their own homes.

Bibliographic Notes

This research brief was written by Frances Willick.