The aim of the study was to understand the experiences of living with multiple chronic conditions (MCC) from the perspective of community-living older adults with MCC.
A qualitative study using an interpretive description approach.
Participants were recruited from southern Ontario, Canada.
21 community-living, older adults (≥65 years) with an average of 7.4 chronic conditions including one of diabetes, dementia or stroke.
Data were collected through digitally-recorded, in-depth, semi-structured in-person interviews. Interview transcripts were analysed and coded using Thorne’s interpretive description approach.
Five themes were identified representing older adults' experiences of living with MCC: (a) trying to stay healthy while living with MCC, (b) depending on family caregivers for support with just about everything, (c) paying the high costs of living with MCC, (d) making healthcare decisions by proxy and (e) receiving healthcare services that do not address the complex needs of persons living with MCC.
The experience of living with MCC in the community was complex and multi-faceted. The need for a person-centred and family-centred approach to care in the community, which includes the coordination of health and social services that are tailored to the needs of older adults and their informal caregivers, was underscored. Such an approach would facilitate improved information-sharing and discussion of care management options between health professionals and their patients, enable older adults with MCC to actively engage in priority-setting and decision-making and may result in improved health and quality of life for older adults with MCC.