Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-wzw2p Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-24T20:41:35.267Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Health capital in everyday life of the oldest old living in their own homes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 August 2014

Faculty of Health Sciences, Oslo and Akershus University College, Oslo, Norway.
Faculty of Health Sciences, Oslo and Akershus University College, Oslo, Norway. Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Agder, Grimstad, Norway.
Address for correspondence: Astrid Bergland, Oslo University College, Postboks 4 St. Olavs Plass, 0130 Oslo, Norway. E-mail:


As more people experience old age as a time of growth and productivity, more research is needed that explores how they master everyday life. This paper reports on a qualitative study that explored how ten older women age 90 years or more experience and cope with the challenges of everyday life with a salutogenic perspective. The findings suggest that health resources such as positive expectation, reflection and adaptation, function and active contribution, relations and home, contribute to the health capital of women. These health resources were of importance for the women's experience of comprehensibility, manageability and meaningfulness in daily life. Health capital is a meaningful concept for understanding coping in everyday life by older people.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Antonovsky, A. 1979. Health, Stress, and Coping: New Perspectives on Mental and Physical Well-being. Jossey-Bass, San Fransciso.Google Scholar
Antonovsky, A. 1987. Unraveling the Mystery of Health. Jossey-Bass, San Fransciso.Google Scholar
Antonovsky, A. 1996. The salutogenic model as a theory to guide health promotion. Health Promotion International, 11, 1, 11–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
BengtssonTops, A. and Hansson, L. 2001. The validity of Antonovsky's sense of coherence measure in a sample of schizophrenic patients living in the community. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 33, 4, 432–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bergland, A. 2002. Falls suffered by the elderly living at home. Dissertation, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo.Google Scholar
Blaxter, M. 2010. Health. Polity, Cambridge.Google Scholar
Bould, S., Smith, M. H. and Longino, C. F. Jr 1997. Ability, disability, and the oldest old. Journal of Aging and Social Policy, 9, 1, 1331.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Caap-Ahlgren, M. and Dehlin, O. 2004. Sense of coherence is a sensitive measure of changes in subjects with Parkinson's disease during 1 year. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 18, 2, 154–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Callahan, L. F. and Pincus, T. 1995. The Sense of Coherence Scale in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Care & Research, 8, 1, 2835.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Carstensen, L. 2006. The influence of a sense of time on human development. Science, 312, 5782, 1913–5.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Christensen, K., Doblhammer, G., Rau, R. and Vaupel, J. W. 2009. Ageing populations: the challenges ahead. Lancet, 374, 9696, 1196–208.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Ciairano, S., Rabaglietti, E., De Martini, R. and Giletta, M. 2008. Older people's sense of coherence: relationships with education, former occupation and living arrangements. Ageing & Society, 28, 8, 1075–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cole, C. S. 2007. Nursing home residents’ sense of coherence and functional status decline. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 25, 2, 96103.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Coward, D. D. 1996. Self-transcendence and correlated in a healthy population. Nursing Research, 45, 2, 116–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cowlishaw, S., Niele, S., Teshuva, K., Browning, C. and Kendig, H. 2013. Older adults’ spirituality and life satisfaction: a longitudinal test of social support and sense of coherence as mediating mechanisms. Ageing & Society, 33, 7, 1243–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Drageset, J., Eide, G. E., Nygaard, H. A., Bondevik, M., Nortvedt, M. W. and Natvig, G. K. 2009. The impact of social support and sense of coherence on health-related quality of life among nursing home residents – a questionnaire survey in Bergen, Norway. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 46, 1, 6676.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Espenes, Ø. and Smedslund, G. 2009. Helsepsykologi [Health Psychology]. Gyldendal Akademisk, Oslo.Google Scholar
Falk, I. and Kilpatrick, S. 2000. What is social capital? A study of interaction in a rural community. Sociologia Ruralis, 40, 1, 87110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Femia, E. E., Zarit, S. H. and Johansson, B. 2001. The disablement process in very late life: a study of the oldest-old in Sweden. Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Research, 12B, 3, 189–98.Google Scholar
Folstein, M. F., Folstein, S. E. and McHugh, P. R. 1975. ‘Mini-mental state’: a practical method for grading the cognitive state of patients for the clinician. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 12, 3, 189–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Forbes, D. A. 2001. Enhancing mastery and sense of coherence. Geriatric Nursing, 22, 1, 2932.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Fugelli, P. and Ingstad, B. 2009. Helsepånorsk [Health in Norwegian]. Gyldendal, Oslo.Google Scholar
Gondo, Y. 2012. Longevity and successful ageing: implications from the oldest old and centenarians. Asian Journal Gerontology & Geriatrics, 7, 1, 3943.Google Scholar
Graneheim, U. H. and Lundman, B. 2004. Qualitative content analysis in nursing research: concepts, procedures and measures to achieve trustworthiness. Nurse Education Today, 24, 2, 105–12.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Grossman, M. 1972. On the concept of health capital and the demand for health. Journal of Political Economy, 80, 2, 223–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Keeler, E., Guralnik, J. M., Tian, H., Wallace, R. B. and Reuben, D. B. 2010. The impact of functional status on life expectancy in older persons. Journals of Gerontology: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 65A, 7, 727–33.Google Scholar
Knowles, S. and Owen, P. D. 1995. Health capital and cross-country variation in income per capita in Minkiw-Romer Weil model. Economics Letters, 48, 1, 99106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Konttinen, H., Haukkala, A. and Uutela, A. 2008. Comparing sense of coherence, depressive symptoms and anxiety, and their relationships with health in population-based study. Social Science Medicine, 66, 12, 2401–12.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kunzmann, U., Little, T. D. and Smith, J. 2000. Is age-related stability of subjective well-being a paradox? Cross sectional and longitudinal evidence from the Berlin Aging Study. Psychology and Ageing, 15, 3, 511–26.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Langius, A. and Bjoervell, H. 1993. Coping ability and functional status in a Swedish population sample. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 7, 1, 310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lazarus, R. S. and Folkman, S. 1984. Stress, Appraisal and Coping. Springer, New York.Google Scholar
Lundberg, O. and Peck, N. M. 1994. Sense of coherence, social structure and health. European Journal of Public Health, 4, 4, 252–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lundman, B. and Norberg, A. 1993. The significance of a sense of coherence for subjective health in person with insulin-dependent diabetes. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 18, 3, 381–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Malterud, K. 2001. Qualitative research: standards, challenges, and guidelines. Lancet, 853, 9280, 483–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Malterud, K. 2012. Systematic text condensation: a strategy for qualitative analysis. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 40, 8, 795805.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Nesbitt, B. J. and Heidrich, S. M. 2000. Sense of coherence and illness appraisal in older women's quality of life. Research in Nursing & Health, 23, 1, 2534.3.0.CO;2-M>CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Nilsson, B., Holmgren, L., Stegmayr, B. and Westman, G. 2003. Sense of coherence-stability over time and relation to health, disease, and psychosocial changes in a general population: a longitudinal study. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 31, 4, 297304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Norris, N. 1997. Error, bias and validity in qualitative research. Educational Action Research, 5, 1, 172–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nygren, B. 2006. Inner strength among the oldest old. A good ageing. Dissertation, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.Google Scholar
Picone, G., Uribe, M. and Wilson, R. M. 1998. The effect of uncertainty on the demand for medical care, health capital and wealth. Journal of Health Economics, 17, 2, 171–85.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Rennemark, M. and Hagberg, B. 1997. Sense of coherence among the elderly in relation to their perceived life history in an Eriksonian perspective. Aging & Mental Health, 1, 3, 221–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rennemark, M. and Hagberg, B. 1999. What makes old people perceive symptoms of illness? The impact of psychological and social factors. Aging & Mental Health, 3, 1, 7987.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Saevareid, H. I., Thygesen, E., Nygaard, H. A. and Lindstrom, T. C. 2007. Does sense of coherence affect the relationship between self-rated health and health status in a sample of community-dwelling frail elderly people? Aging & Mental Health, 11, 6, 658–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sarvimäki, A. and Stenbock-Hult, B. 2000. Quality of life in old age described as a sense of well-being, meaning and value. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 32, 4, 1025–33.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Schneider, G., Driescha, G., Kruseb, A., Wachterb, M., Nehenc, H.-G. and Heufta, G. 2004. What influences self-perception of health in the elderly? The role of objective health condition, subjective well-being and sense of coherence. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 39, 2, 227–37.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Schnyder, U., Büchi, S., Mörgeli, H., Sensky, T. and Klaghofer, R. 1999. Sense of coherence a mediator between disability and handicap? Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 68, 2, 102–10.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Smith, S. J., Easterlow, D., Munro, M. and Turner, K. M. 2003. Housing as health capital: how health trajectories and housing paths are linked. Journal of Social Issues, 59, 3, 501–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Söderberg, S., Lundman, B. and Norberg, A. 1997. Living with fibromyalgia: sense of coherence, perception of wellbeing, and stress in daily life. Research in Nursing, 20, 6, 495503.Google ScholarPubMed
Söderhamn, U., Bachrach-Lindström, M. and Ek, A. C. 2008. Self-care ability and sense of coherence in older nutritional at-risk patients. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 62, 1, 96103.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Söderhamn, U., Dale, B. and Söderhamn, O. 2011. Narrated lived experiences of self-care and health among rural living older persons with a strong sense of coherence. Psychology Research and Behaviour Management, 4, 151–8 doi:10.2147/PRBM.S27228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stokols, D. 1996. Translating social ecological theory into guidelines for community health promotion. American Journal of Health Promotion, 10, 4, 282–98.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Volanen, S.-M. 2011. Sense of coherence. Determinants and consequences. Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki.Google Scholar
Williams, S. J. 1990. The relationship among stress, hardiness, sense of coherence, and illness in critical care nurses. Medical Psychotherapy, 3, 1, 171–86.Google Scholar
Zarit, S. H. 2009. A good old age: theories of mental health and aging. In Bengtson, V. L., Silverstein, M., Putney, N. M. and Gans, D. (eds), Handbook of Theories of Aging. Springer, New York, Chapter 37, 675–91.Google Scholar
Zarit, S. H., Johansson, B. and Malmberg, B. 1995. Changes in functional competency in the oldest old: a longitudinal study. Journal of Aging and Health, 7, 1, 321.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed