ADAPTATION OF PERSONS AGED 65 AND OVER TO LIVING IN AN INSTITUTIONAL ENVIRONMENT
Changing the home environment with an institutional one is extremely stressful for everyone and is associated with the loss of independence and subsequently of psychological identity. The present study aims to identify the process of adaptation of institutionalized persons aged 65 and over, as well as to address the leading problems related to it. The study was conducted in two stages. The first stage included 175 people aged 65 and over, accommodated in retirement homes for elderly persons (DSH) in Bulgaria – two in the city of Varna and two in the city of Provadia, and in each of the cities two institutions were included – one supported by municipal funding and one supported by private funding. The information from the respondents was obtained through a semistructured interview. In the second stage, a qualitative study was conducted, which involved 10 people aged 65 and over, accommodated in a retirement home for elderly persons in Varna, from whom information was obtained through an in-depth interview. The results of the study indicate that most people have difficulty in the first weeks of admission. They are caused by the initial stress when changing the living environment and include problems in communicating with other residents and staff, deepening negative emotions. The feeling of abandonment, uselessness causes depressive symptoms, which further slowdown the adaptation. It is necessary to ensure a smooth transition in institutionalization, expressed in a careful attitude of staff to the new occupants of the home, better selection of cohabitants in a room, taking into account their individual characteristics, as well as a proper approach to visits, especially during the first weeks of stay. The complex care that people over 65 receive in retirement homes for elderly persons is of paramount importance when it comes to easier coping with the problems that accompany adaptation after admission to an institution.
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