Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - ECU Access Only


Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Supervisor

Doctor Moira O'Connor


This study uses a qualitative in-depth research design to explore the attitudes that community living people over 85 years of age (n=lO) hold towards relocating to an aged care facility. Aged care facilities are supported accommodation options for the elderly that were previously known as nursing homes or hostels (Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services, 1997). This type of accommodation currently houses 31 % of the total population of people over 85 years of age (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2004-2005). Attitudes towards new environments are associated with relocation adjustment, and a review of the literature reveals negative perceptions by younger elderly people towards aged care facilities. Demographic trends indicate a rapid increase in the number of very-old people who are in the high-risk group for admission to aged care facilities; however there is a paucity of research regarding their attitudes towards such relocation. There are many implications for aged care service providers as a result of these demographic trends, but particularly in relation to accommodation options for the elderly. This research examines the attitudes that the very-old hold about going into residential care. It also explores the emotions underpinning that attitude. The main areas that emerged included concerns over media representation, perceived lack of control and fear of a loss of independence. There were very negative attitudes toward the loss of the home itself followed by concerns over loss of personal possessions. The very-old have such rich histories embedded in their home and possessions that these things become a part of their identity and culture (Moore, 2000) rather that a separate entity, and therefore the loss of these possessions could ultimately lead to the loss of self. The results have proven to be generally negative toward relocation to an aged care facility and combined with an assumption by the participants that there is no opportunity for future planning once in care, some expressed they would choose death rather than relocation. The implications of allowing these negative attitudes to continue without interventions based on further research and community consultation, will only add to the relocation stress syndrome already being experienced by many of very senior members of society (Capezuti, Boltz, & Renz, 2004).