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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 82-85

Elderly population and the presumptive stressful life events scale: An empirical appraisal

Department of Psychiatry, AIIMS, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Anindya Das
Department of Psychiatry, AIIMS, Rishikesh - 249 203, Uttarakhand
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jgmh.jgmh_38_20

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Introduction: Presumptive stressful life events scale (PSLES) is used widely in Indian life-event research. The use of PSLES in the elderly has been rather mechanistic, without giving due emphasis on the unique experiences of the elderly, particularly within the context of contemporary social change of family values in India. This research aimed to critically appraise the relevance of PSLES in the elderly. Methodology: The research was part of a larger project on stress, coping, and religiosity in (faith bases) ashram-dwelling elderly. A single consenting ashram for the elderly (for aged > 60 years) consented to the study. Participants were included if they had stayed for more than 6 months and had no impairment that compromised understanding of the research. We used the PSLES (a checklist method) for evaluating life events. We supplemented our exploration with open-ended interviews to evaluate the relevance and salience attributed to these life-events. Results: Ninety-four elderly participated (response rate was 70.15') with a mean (standard deviation) age of 74.56 (7.39) years, equally represented by either gender, with a mean duration of ashram stay of 10.85 years. Most frequent events reported were death in the family, going on a trip/pilgrimage, personal illness, and changes in biological functions. Discussion: PSLES was developed for adult Indians, and its use in the elderly may need modification due to qualitatively and quantitatively varying life events, such as the importance of nonegocentric stress (loss of job of one's child) versus egocentric stress (own hospitalization) or change of salience of events (e.g., lack of son versus daughter). Conclusion: To improve the relevance of PSLES for life-event research and capture the unique experiences of the elderly, suggested modifications are necessary.

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