Author: Gina Marques

School of Health – Polytechnic Institute of Santarém
Life Quality Research Centre



People over the age of 80 can be considered especially vulnerable to situations of suffering due to multiple factors, such as the loss of self-care skills, family and social losses and the approach to the end of life. Research has shown that addressing the human existential dimension in healthcare is a way of understanding people who are suffering, resulting in a professional intervention that has a positive impact on their well-being.

However, studies also reveal that for people in pain, addressing this dimension is a natural expectation and need, because this need stems from the links between human beings and situations of uncertainty such as the approaching end of life, but it is still uncommon for healthcare professionals to address this dimension as an intentional human care intervention.

People aged 80 or over are the age groups that are growing the most today, and will continue to do so in the coming decades (OECD, 2021). These people are considered vulnerable (Bozzaro et al., 2018), as they are the target of ostracization, social exclusion (WHO, 2015) often feeling devalued and existentially abandoned (Marques, 2023).

Living longer makes the experience of old age more complex, due to greater exposure to risks such as functional decline; social isolation; emotional problems; illnesses; cognitive decline; loss of autonomy; insufficient personal care and disadvantaged social conditions (Bozzaro et al., 2018), as well as possible physical, psychological, sexual, financial or material abuse (WHO, 2015), are personal and social attributes, the main consequence of which is compromising the quality of lives of people over 80 years old.


Read the full article in December 23 Newsletter