Making the best of it: adapting to the ambivalence of a nursing home environment

Qual Health Res. 1999 Jan;9(1):119-32. doi: 10.1177/104973299129121631.


This article is based on a 9-month ethnographic study of a nursing home for older Jewish people. In this article, the process that 21 key informants went through in adapting to the dual nature of the nursing home as institution and as home is examined. A widely used phrase, "making the best of it," was used by informants and other residents of the nursing home to describe this process. Interpretive analysis of this emic phrase revealed four dimensions: (a) recognizing the ambivalence of their living environment and situation, (b) downplaying negative aspects of it, (c) having no other options, and (d) using their will to transcend and create a home.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nursing Homes / organization & administration*
  • Social Environment