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Sterben und Tod bei Hochaltrigen

Die Rolle von Persönlichkeit, Gesundheit und Religiosität


Ortrun Reidick

Die Auseinandersetzung mit der Sterblichkeit ist eines der großen Menschheitsthemen. Unmittelbar konfrontiert sind damit, statistisch gesehen, insbesondere Menschen über 85 Jahre. Doch wie gehen hochaltrige Personen damit um? Hierzu liegen bislang nur wenige Erkenntnisse vor. Die Autorin stellt zunächst Einstellungen zu Sterben und Tod umfassend aus kulturhistorischer und psychologischer Sicht dar. Anschließend präsentiert sie empirische Ergebnisse einer Studie, in der Hochaltrige erstmalig Einblicke in das Tabuthema gewährten. Welche Zusammenhänge bestehen zu Persönlichkeit, Gesundheit und Religiosität? Der Leser erfährt, wie man sich oder Angehörige im Umgang mit dem Lebensende unterstützen kann. Denn Akzeptanz ist auch im hohen Alter möglich, wie die Studie eindrucksvoll belegt. Dieses Buch wurde mit dem Willi-Abts-Preis 2014 der Albert und Loni Simon Stiftung in Mainz zur Förderung eines selbstbestimmten Lebens im Alter ausgezeichnet.
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Due to continued demographic change the group of the oldest-old (aged 85 years and above) has become the fastest growing population segment. Persons in this Fourth Age are prone to suffer from functional and cognitive impairments, multimorbidity as well as diminishing social contacts. Despite the fact of an increased vulnerability, findings, notably the well-being paradox or conceptual frameworks such as emotional control theory, suggest a great adaptational potential for the oldest-old to cope with these deficits, e.g. by means of cognitive reframing or the use of psychological resources like personality traits. Does this also hold true for the confrontation with one’s own restricted lifetime and thus mortality? To date, there have been only a few studies aimed at shedding light on the field of attitudes towards dying and death in old age, although these might be of particular importance in the proximity to death. Moreover, death-related attitudes might act as so far unknown determinants of successful ageing.

In the study presented, these attitudes were examined with the Multidimensional Orientation Toward Dying and Death Inventory (MODDI-F), comprising fear of one’s own dying, fear of one’s own death and neutral acceptance of one’s own dying and death. The sample consisted of 113 cognitively healthy people aged 87 to 89 years. Due to the lack of integrative models for the use of anxiety-related and affirmative attitudes towards finitude in latest life, a hypothetically constructed model to explain these attitudes in old age was developed conceptually and consecutively tested empirically....

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