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Determinants of a sense of insecurity among home-dwelling older people.

  • Knuutila, Mia T1, 2, 3
  • Lehti, Tuuli E1, 2, 3
  • Karppinen, Helena2
  • Kautiainen, Hannu2
  • Strandberg, Timo E4, 5
  • Öhman, Hannareeta2, 4
  • Savikko, Niina M2, 6
  • Jansson, Anu H2, 7
  • Pitkälä, Kaisu H2, 3
  • 1 Social Services and Health Care, City of Helsinki, Finland. , (Finland)
  • 2 Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, University of Helsinki, Finland. , (Finland)
  • 3 Unit of Primary Health Care, Helsinki University Hospital, Finland. , (Finland)
  • 4 Clinics of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, Helsinki University Hospital, Finland. , (Finland)
  • 5 Department of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, University of Helsinki, Finland. , (Finland)
  • 6 City of Espoo, Elderly Care, Finland. , (Finland)
  • 7 The Finnish Association for the Welfare of Older People, Finland. , (Finland)
Published Article
Scandinavian journal of public health
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2024
DOI: 10.1177/14034948221131419
PMID: 36271626


Aims: A sense of insecurity may have an impact on older people's well-being and their courage to engage actively in meaningful activities. Studies on a sense of insecurity among older people are scarce. The aim of this study was to determine the extent to which home-dwelling older adults perceive their life as being insecure and how a sense of insecurity is associated with their health, functional status, active social engagement, well-being and perceptions of the societal treatment of older people. Methods: This study is part of the Helsinki Aging Study, a cohort study ongoing since 1989. Data were collected using a postal questionnaire that was mailed in 2019 to a random sample of home-dwelling older people ⩾75 years of age living in Helsinki (N=2917; response rate 74%). The questionnaire inquired about the respondents' sense of security/insecurity, and they were subcategorised into those feeling secure and those feeling insecure based on their answers. Results: Seven per cent of respondents felt insecure in their lives. In a stepwise logistic regression analysis, loneliness, living alone and perceived poor societal treatment of older people were associated with a sense of insecurity, while having good self-rated health, having children and meeting friends at least weekly were associated with lower odds of insecurity. Conclusions: Our findings highlight the importance of recognising and combating loneliness, social isolation and societal ageism in order to reduce insecurity among older people and to support their active engagement in life.

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