Exploring the similarities and differences in the forgiveness of the elders living in the old-age homes and the families
Objectives: Researchers have reported close links between forgiveness and positive life outcomes for people of all age groups. The study explored the perceived transgressions and forgiveness of the elders using a qualitative research design.
Design and Methods: Narrative qualitative research design was employed. The semi-structured interview was used to collect data of 10 elders of old-age homes (Mean age = 67.20, SD = 4.57) and 12 elders residing with their families (Mean age = 69.33, SD = 4.21) which were analysed through thematic analysis.
Results: Severe loss, serious neglect and cheating were the major perceived transgressions of the old-age home elders whereas day-to-day issues characterized the perceived transgressions of the family elders. Pseudo-forgiveness was observed in the elders of old-age home because of helplessness and their fear of losing respect while affiliation, perceived harm, the realisation of offence, and perceived consequences of punishment were precursors for the forgiveness in family-living elders. Both the groups acknowledged the role of offence, intention, relationships, attributions and commitment to socio-cultural and moral values in forgiveness.
Implications: The differences in the perceived transgressions, poor social support and negative cognitions were significant factors behind the dissimilar forgiveness of the two groups. Cultural conceptualizations of relationships, morality, emotion regulation, health issues, spiritual beliefs and interpersonal resources seem to regulate the forgiveness of the elders. Heterogeneity Hypothesis, implicit theories of relationship, just world belief and stress-buffering theory were used to explain the findings. Practitioners may use forgiveness interventions to improve positive life outcomes of the elders. Practitioners may consider providing social support and reducing negative cognitions to facilitate elders’ forgiveness.
Keywords: forgiveness, elders, old-age home, transgressions, thematic analysis.