||A Study of Interpersonal Relationships, Self-Esteem, and Institutional Attachment|
Among Elderly Living in Residential Homes
The objective of this thesis is to examine and understand the social differentiations of interpersonal relationships, self-esteem, and institutional attachment of the elderly living in residential homes in terms of demographic variables, socioeconomic backgrounds, and health in order to enhance both theoretical and practical knowledge and ideas for the management of residential homes as well as the global implications for the national welfare policy for older people. In addition, voluntary action to serve for other residents was also included for the analysis in order to examine the impact of such actions and arrangements. It could be requested and arranged by the administrators of the residential homes.
The research data are obtained by visiting and interviewing the elderly who live in either one of the two residential homes that both locate in Kaohsiung area. One residential home is supported by city government and the other is run by a private group. The author randomly interviewed more than half of the residential elderly and built 194 cases of data for this research. The analysis results of these data show that most of the elderly had their own socioeconomic backgrounds, health problems and felt strange to each other in the beginning, when they moved in the residential homes. However, with the interaction of the elderly becoming frequent and the socialization progressing, new social living style was rebuilt. The interpersonal relationships, self-esteem, and institutional attachment of the elderly living in residential homes are getting better and better.
For the elderly living in residential home, interpersonal relationship, self-esteem and institutional attachment are not dependent on the ages. Well educated people may have the tendency to develop positive interpersonal relationship, especially easier to make friends in some events. Those who are with advantage of socioeconomic backgrounds may also easier enhance interpersonal relationship with others. However, education level and socioeconomic backgrounds are not the necessary conditions for positive interpersonal relationship, self-esteem and institutional attachment, since no coherent effects can be found. Sex and marriage may obviously play some roles in the interpersonal relationship and self-esteem, although their effects are different. Those who have the experience of marriage usually develop better interpersonal relationship and self-esteem than those who don’t. Female elderly seem to have better interpersonal relationship and self-esteem than male elderly. Whether sex and marriage may influence interpersonal relationship, self-esteem and institutional attachment or not is not so clear and is worth studying in future.
A constructive finding concluded in this research is that caring for elderly health and voluntary action to serve for other residents play important roles in improving institutional attachment. Although, the health situation of an elderly does not influence his interpersonal relationship with people from outside the residential home or other environments, it has the effect on the interpersonal relationship, self-esteem and institutional attachment inside the residential home, especially making friends in some events. Voluntary action can enhance interpersonal relationship not only inside but also outside the residential home. Hence, To improve interpersonal relationship, self-esteem and institutional attachment, good social welfare policy and efficient management of residential homes are necessary. We should not only take into account the factors such as sex, marriage and socioeconomic backgrounds, but also pay attention to the elderly health and arrangement of the voluntary services.
Suggestions of the research: (1) Plan a sound economy and security system for the elderly, such that citizens can have better choice in their early ages. (2) Pay attention to the fairness and efficiency of the public residential homes to fulfill the requirements of social service. (3) The management of the residential homes needs to reform and provides different services. (4) Establish a comprehensive evaluation system for residential homes, based on humanity point of view. (5) Pay attention to sociological support and care for the elderly to help rebuild their self-esteem and self-fulfill. (6) Encourage the elderly to perform voluntary service and help each other. (7) Increase the interaction with people from outside the residential home and bring in resources form neighborhood. (8) Well organize some associations to help the elderly perform proper and interesting activities without spending much energy. (9) Design suitable leisure area and provide interactive space for the elderly.