Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Nursing (M.S.N.)

Degree Program

College of Nursing

First Advisor

Patricia Underwood

Second Advisor

Katherine Kim

Third Advisor

Wayne Kinzie


Major focus should be on the elderly's ability to initiate and perform self-care. Interventions to improve health in this age group are most appropriately based on an assessment of their ability to engage in self-care. Orem's framework guided this descriptive study of self-care ability of a convenience sample of 56 seniors residing within a midwestern community. A revision of the Exercise of Self-Care Agency Scale developed by Kearny and Fleischer (1979) was used to measure self-care agency. Relationships between self-care agency and age, gender, living pattern, education, income, and other variables were analyzed. A majority of the subjects perceived their health status as good to excellent and scored high on the Exercise of Self-Care Agency Scale. Age, gender, living pattern, nor income were significant to the ability to engage in self-care. A significant positive relationship existed between education and frequency of exercise as well as between self-care agency scores and frequency of exercise. Elderly who never smoked exhibited a higher score on the self-care agency scale. A positive relationship between health problems and number of visits to a physician was found to exist.


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