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Happy Life of the Elderly in a Village of Khon Kaen Province : a Case Study of Ban Kai Na of Muang District Pirasak SriruechaDepartment of Public Health AdministrationFaculty of Public Health, Khon Kaen University   Abstract This research primarily aimed to explore the happy life of the elderly in a village of KhonKaen. As a village case-study by design, this study employed different qualitative data collectiontechniques including community study, life history study, in-depth interview, participantobservation, and informal interview from the middle of October 2000 to February 2001. Thestudy site, Ban Kai Na in Muang District, was selected purposively with regard to its size andother social and cultural characteristics to ensure that the villagers had close social distance andlong enough experience of shared culture to picture the happy life of the elderly. Life historywas studied in 7 elderly, 3 males and 4 females, whose ages were 70 or over. The results revealed the role of the elderly was still active socially, culturally, and economicallyunder some contributing factors (i.e. perceived health status, previous role, role ofgender and peers, family support, and social expectation.) Their major roles included a masterof religious ceremony, peacekeeping of a village through the village rules and regulations,supplementary economic role, socialization and key informant in tradition and religious affairs. The elderly viewed the happy life, with slight diversity, as the holistic pleasurable conditionof both physical and mental wellness, with the absence of suffering, bereavement orDhukka, peaceful and self-subsistent. Most of them placed more value on inside tranquillitythan outside physical comfort. The elderly with a happy life was regarded as a meritful person.How happy life of an individual was, was truly subjective and based on the result of thecomparison with condition of others who were at the same or similar position. Belief about thecauses of having a happy life was related to the belief about merit or Boon in past lives, and lifefate or Wasana and Kamma (the law of action) that one performed both in present and previouslives. The components of happy life included good health, (i.e. absence of chronic illness andenough physical vigor), economic self-subsistence, ability to make merit, ability to help others,and living in a good community. The socio-cultural contexts surrounding the elderly happy lifeincluded the close kinship system, social and family system that gives positive value to theelderly under the influence of Buddhism, agrarian society that needs co-operation among villagers,old and small clustered community. The results suggested that the elderly should be provided with both medical and socialservice programs that are culturally relevant and extended to grass root level covering allaspects of happy life through empowering family, and community to function. Institutionalwelfare service should be minimal as needed. It is also suggested to develop social indicator fora happy life of the Thai elderly.
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