Journal of Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences




Researchers have found that the majority of older individuals want to remain in their own home as they age. However, respecting the right of older individuals to exert control over their life while ensuring their safety can be a difficult undertaking to achieve. The aim of this research was to understand the lived experiences of an older couple who are in cognitive decline but are trying to maintain personal agency. The issue was studied using Bandura’s agency and self-efficacy theories as the theoretical framework. A phenomenological case study methodology was used. Participants were selected using a purposeful sampling strategy, and the sample was four individuals (father, mother, daughter, and grandson) from one family living at two separate residences. Data were collected using a mixed-methods approach. Qualitative data were collected by interviewing participants, and quantitative data were collected by administering a standardized cognitive assessment to the older individuals. Results indicated that the older couple were able to live independently because of the presence of the following five components: (a) adequate physical health; (b) adequate cognition, especially in the areas of memory and problem solving; (c) self-efficacy beliefs; (d) coping strategies to compensate for the declines in physical health and cognition due to aging; and (e) a support system to help the couple with activities they could no longer do on their own. In this study, each of the older individuals believed they could take care of themselves and wanted to live on their own. Independent living was only possible with significant assistance from family members.