Positive Aging: The Experience of Happiness among Pakistani Older Adults
Background: This paper reflects and brings together the interests of positive psychiatry and positive gerontology, which are emerging fields that emphasize the promotion of health and positive mental traits rather than a focus on illness alone.
Objective: To explore the experience of happiness among older individuals and the factors that lead to happiness for them.
Method: The study used a mixed methods research design. Within the framework of Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), semi structured interviews were conducted with 10 community residing older adults (5 men and 5 women) recruited from Lahore. Themes were derived from the interview transcripts. The top themes from the qualitative study were then taken and measured as variables in a survey, taking a purposive sample of 300 older adults.
Results: The qualitative study yielded seven themes dealing with the sources of happiness and unhappiness for the sample. These included children as central, being at the giving end, connection with the Divine, engrossed or up and about, the human connection, negative attitudes of people and health and mobility. The experiential themes were happiness as a surge of energy versus stillness and peace, gratitude as nested within happiness and happiness as an inner versus outward experience. The survey revealed that the top three themes, titled Children Associated Factors, Altruism, and Religion and Spirituality, were significantly positively correlated with happiness.
Conclusion: This study has thrown light on the experience of happiness among older adults and the factors which contribute to their happiness level. The older persons’ perspective needs to be taken into account to shape and inform practice and policy geared toward enhancing wellbeing in old age.
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