Exploring the Relationship between Social Support and Life Satisfaction among Rural Elderly in Japan
Previous studies conducted in Japan had revealed an association between social support and life satisfaction among the elderly and the importance of informal support. A plethora of formal social support had been established when the Japanese Government introduced the LTCI (Long-Term Care Instrument) system in 2000. This system enabled elderly people to receive health benefits both mental and physical. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between social support and the life satisfaction of elderly people in Japan. The study involved using qualitative analysis on data drawn from recorded and transcribed semi-structured interviews involving five participants living in Town B in Japan. Utilising Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) enabled discovery of the past and present lived experiences of participants and also gave insights into their worlds. Three themes emerged from the research: gender difference, transition of role from carer to being cared for, and reciprocity. The research revealed the following key factors that determined social support: gender, past life, resources, physical condition (especially IADL), social role and perception of outcomes. Although the study elicited the key factors that strongly affected the elderly in Japan and the results conformed to previous studies, the research suggested that the perception of the elderly should be the central focus.