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Old people receiving municipal care, their experiences of what constitutes a good life in the last phase of life.

  • Magdalena Andersson
  • Ingalill Rahm Hallberg
  • Anna-Karin Edberg
Publishing year: 2008
Language: English
Pages: 818-828
Publication/Series: International Journal of Nursing Studies
Volume: 45
Issue: 6
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract english

Background: Old people's life situation when receiving municipal help and care in their last period of life is sparsely investigated from their own perspective. Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the experiences of aspects that bring about a good life in the last phase of life among people (75 + years) receiving municipal care. Participants: Older people living in a municipality in Southern Sweden being 75 years or older, receiving help and/or care from the municipality, and having a life-threatening disease and/or receiving palliative care were asked to participate. In all 17 people, 10 women and 7 men, aged 78-100 years were included. Methods: Qualitative interviews, with the emphasis on their present life situation especially what brought about a good life, were performed. The interviews were analysed using qualitative content analysis. Results: The experience was interpreted to be Turning inwards to come to peace with the past, the present and approaching death while being trapped by health complaints. Six categories embraced the experience of aspects that constitute a good life in the last phase of life: Maintaining dignity, Enjoying small things, Feelings of "being at home", Being in the hands of others, trying to adjust, Still being important for other people and Completing life while facing death. Conclusion: This study confirm theories suggesting that the last phase of life in old age meant focusing inwards, reflecting on the entire life as a way of completing it as well as enjoying small things and also viewing oneself in the perspective of contributing to the future. It also indicated that this phase of life meant being trapped by health complaints and functional limitations. The struggle to maintaining dignity as opposed to being in the hands of others implies that the concept of palliative care may be useful as a framework for providing nursing care to very old people, especially at the end of life.


  • Nursing
  • palliative care
  • quality of life
  • qualitative research
  • frail elderly


  • ISSN: 1873-491X
Ingalill Rahm Hallberg
E-mail: ingalill [dot] rahm_hallberg [at] med [dot] lu [dot] se

Professor emerita

Health-promoting Complex Interventions