Perceptions of long-term care, autonomy, and dignity, by residents, family and care-givers: The Houston experience

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 32 (5):447 – 464 (2007)
Abstract
Houston, Texas, is a major U.S. city with, like many, a growing aging population. The purpose of this study and ultimate book chapter is to explore the views and perceptions of long-term care (LTC) residents, family members and health care providers. Individuals primarily in independent living and group residential settings were interviewed and studied. Questions emphasized the concepts of personal autonomy, dignity, quality and location of care and decision making. Although a small sample of participants were involved, consistency was noted. Keeping the elderly in caring and loving home situations (theirs or family) was most preferred. Personal choice and independence were emphasized by residents, but family members needed to act as advocates. We also noted that the legal system emphasizes family control over individual decision making as competency declines with aging. Optimal personal decision making in the residents' best interest also became more difficult with loss of individual mental capacity.
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