Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Theology (MTh)





First Advisor

Delton J. Glebe

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


A survey was conducted on a sample of 15 seniors living in a nursing home, who had a median age of 79 years. About 93% of them were institutionalized because of poor health; with stroke, dementia and arthritis being the most prevalent diseases. Furthermore, all of them had suffered other forms of significant loss in their lives, including emotional cut-offs and death, with reported feelings of guilt and unresolved grief. While most felt lonely, this problem often tended to be alleviated by factors such as friendships, visits by kin and non-kin, as well as activities and entertainments. Other reasons for liking to live at TVCC included compassionate care, good accommodation and food, and, most importantly, the recognition that given their health situation the residents are better cared for in the institution than they would be at home. Therefore, life at TVCC might become more satisfying to both residents and staff if the former were encouraged to maintain communication with members of their families, socialize with fellow residents, and participate in as many activities as possible. Empathy was found to be conducive to the elders' self-esteem and autonomy. All of them acknowledged receiving help from as well as giving it to fellow residents. The main ways in which they help each other include talking with each other and pushing each other's wheelchairs. These results prove that the saying "many seniors are too old to help anybody" is a myth; and that mutual burden-bearing is a self-reinforcing habit among seniors, which if encouraged may contribute significantly to the well-being of both residents and the nursing home staff. Data revealed that seniors’ motivations for helping one another can be explained adequately by Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, Ryan and Deci’s Self-determination theory, and tradition (53.3% of the respondents cited the “Golden Rule and the saying “A good turn deserves another”). In addition to motivating them to engage in mutual help (mutual burden-bearing), religion was also found to be important for their personal piety and sense of hope. In the phraseology of one of the residents, at the moment the status of mutual help at TVCC is like an "unclaimed treasure".

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Social Work Commons