Objectives: In this study, we attempted to evaluate the ability of self-care among elderly patients with diabetes mellitus and its association with the health locus of control and social support.
Methods: Participants comprised 173 community-dwelling outpatients with type-2 diabetes, aged over 50 years (M±SD: 67±9 years). Data on self-care ability, health locus of control, and social support were collected using self-administered questionnaires and by structured interviews, and were analyzed by structural equation modeling to verify the interrelationships between variables.
Results: Elderly patients (≥65 years, n=109) exhibited significantly higher scores on the self-care ability scale than middle-aged patients (<65 years, n=67). Among elderly patients, those with high scores of self-care ability tended to attribute their health to external agents such as their family or supernatural phenomena rather than their own actions. On the basis of structural equation modeling, the belief that a participant’s health was dependent on family members and the family members’ actual assistance were found to be significant factors for providing effective support to elderly patients’ health-care behaviors. Furthermore, close friendships contributed to the improvement of health-care ability among elderly patients, whereas the spouse’s aid was crucial for middle-aged patients.
Conclusions: These results suggest that the health locus of control and social support are important considerations when providing health guidance or counseling to improve the self-care ability among elderly patients with diabetes mellitus.