Elderly Wellbeing and Alcohol - A Tricky Cocktail
Alcohol consumption is a tricky issue of growing importance in elderly care facilities. Alcohol can be especially damaging to the health of elderly citizens, many of whom are frail and suffer from dementia. But alcohol is a also associated with celebration, enjoyment, living freely and unconstrained etc., and moderate alcohol consumption can have positive effects. Because of the complex and often conflicting values that attach to it - and because they must both respect the autonomy of elderly citizens and care for the wellbeing and health - elderly care professionals may have difficulties acting and communicating optimally in regard to alcohol consumption.
The research and development project Elderly Wellbeing and Alcohol – A Tricky Cocktail aims at developing guidelines for handling alcohol consumption in elderly care homes and related institutions, and suggestions for improving interaction between care professionals and elderly citizens and improving elderly citizens' wellbeing more generally.
The project combines basic research in philosophy with qualitative empirical research and development of guidelines and practices in elderly care in close collaboration with care professionals and municipal authorities.
We see the problem of handling alcohol consumption as exemplary of more general problems regarding elderly wellbeing and appropriate interaction between care professionals and elderly citizens. They are exemplary in not allowing for simple yes/no answers, as they require an intricate balancing of a wide range of different values and interests, like a concern for autonomy, physical and mental health, symbolic functions of alcohol consumption, self-understanding of elderly citizens, the way alcohol-related behaviour is perceived by other residents, relatives etc.
The project has been funded generously by the VELUX Foundation.
Observations, interviews and development of guidelines are complemented by theoretical work on a process-oriented approach to value conflicts and wellbeing, an emotion-based theory of wellbeing sensitivity and the role of metacognition in caring and handling value conflicts.
Description of the cohort
Elderly citizens (60+), care professionals, relatives and heads of residential homes and other units devoted to elderly care.
Collaborating researchers and departments
Department for the Study of Culture, University of Southern Denmark
- Assistant professor Søren Engelsen, PhD
- PhD student Regina Christiansen
Department of Clinical Research, University of Southern Denmark
- Post doc Jakob Emiliussen, PhD
Department of Clinical Research, University of Southern Denmark and Psychiatry, Region of Southern Denmark
Associate professor Anette Søgaard Nielsen
Publications associated with the project
Klausen, S. H. 2018. “Ethics, Knowledge, and a Procedural Approach to Wellbeing”. Inquiry