Self-help Groups

The last half of the 20th century has been described as the era of the self-help or mutual aid group. In a review of several types of peer-paraprofessional programs for older adults, Gatz (1995) found that program directors often emphasized psychological benefits to the helper, who was being given a role where he or she might feel useful and gain social contacts. The older adult peer counselors gain a sense of internal control and develop more self-efficacious behavior. Mental health professionals can play a variety of

roles in relation to self-help groups: provision of logistical support, start-up assistance, consultation, referrals, and help with organizational and group development issues, and with political action, advocacy, and public education (Gatz, 1995). Conceptual Framework Older people prefer to be cared at home because it offers more security (Doress- Worters & Siegal, 1994). What happens when an elderly is left to spend the remaining years of life in a home, when one becomes one of the growing members of the institutionalized aged?

Can one still be happy and what contributes to this happiness? This study explored the subjective well-being (SWB) of the elderly in Gladys Spellman who opted to live in an institutionalized set up or in a home for the aged by choice. Their concept of SWB from the perspective of their administrators were looked into. The factors which contribute to their subjective well-being were likewise identified still based on their administrators’ point of view. Human beings’ striving for well-being or happiness is as ancient as human history (Diener, 1984).

Veenhoven (2000) observes that the term happiness can have both objective and subjective meanings. In the objective sense, happiness is living in good conditions, such as material prosperity, peace, and freedom. In the subjective sense, happiness is a state of mind. This context refers to evanescent feelings as well as a stable appreciation of life. Happiness is defined as the degree to which someone evaluates positively the overall quality of his or her present life as a whole. In other words, this is about how much one likes the life one lives. [insert Figure 1 here]

Figure 1. Nature of SWB, and how the institutionalized elderly and their close associates perceive it. The overall evaluation of life involves all the criteria figuring in the mind of the individual: how good life feels, how well life meets expectations, how desirable life is deemed to be, and so on. These appraisals of life can concern different periods in time: how life has been, how life is now, and how life will probably be in future. These evaluations do not coincide necessarily; one may be positive about past life but negative about the future.

The focus here is on satisfaction with the life one currently leads (Veenhoven, 2000). Research on subjective well-being is extensive and SWB assumes different terms such as happiness, life satisfaction, quality of life etc. and the definitions of subjective well-being vary based on researcher’s allegiance to each of these fields (Robinson, 1990). For the purpose of the present study the researcher adopted the definition given by Myers (1993) well-being is the pervasive sense that life has been and is good.

It is an ongoing perception that this time in one’s life, or even life as a whole, is fulfilling, meaningful, and pleasant. The area of subjective well-being has three hallmarks. First it is subjective. According to Campbell (1976), it resides within the individual. That is, SWB is defined in terms of the internal experience of the individual. SWB is measured from the individual’s own perspective (Diener, Suh, & Oishi, 1997). In the field of SWB, a person’s beliefs about his or her own well-being are of paramount importance. Second, SWB includes positive measures.

It is not the absence of negative factors, as is true of most measures of mental health. However, the relationship between positive and negative indices is not completely understood (Diener, 1984). Third, SWB measures typically include a global assessment of all aspects of a person’s life. Although affect or satisfaction within a certain domain may be assessed, the emphasis is usually placed on an integrated judgment of the person’s life. Denier et al. (1997) observed that the field of SWB focuses on longer-term states, not momentary moods.

The terms “subjective well-being,” “sense of well-being,” and “well-being” were used interchangeably throughout the study. According to Veenhoven (2000), when we appraise how much we appreciate the life we live, we seem to use two sources of information: we estimate our typical affective experience to assess how well we feel generally, which is referred to here in the study as affective component and at the cognitive level we compare life as it is with standards of how life should be, which is cognitive component or in other words life satisfaction.

In this section, each of the key elements of the study will be explored following a logical progression. First, this section will define the concept of subjective well-being, after which it will consider specific models and then theories of subjective …

It is the second component or construct of SWB, which corresponds to what we generally understand as happiness. According to (Prince, & Prince 2001) affect is thought of as how happy or unhappy you are. It results from a balance …

The area of subjective well-being has three hallmarks. First it is subjective. According to Campbell (1976) it resides within the individual. That is, SWB is defined in terms of the internal experience of the individual. An external frame of reference …

Ryff and Keyes (1995) investigated this multidimensional model of well-being through a sample that was representative of the United States population. In addition, their study considered the links between three widely held standards of conventional psychology and their own theory-based …

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