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Living with a long term physical health condition: psychological experiences of older lifestyle migrants

Simpson, J and Triliva, S and Thomas, C and Chatzidamianos, G and Murray, C (2015) Living with a long term physical health condition: psychological experiences of older lifestyle migrants. The European Health Psychologist, 17. ISSN 2225-6962

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Abstract

An increasing number of people are living with at least one long term health condition or chronic illness (Ham, 2006). One concept within chronic illness research increasingly regarded as important is psychological adjustment. In this study this is understood as the result of a series of adaptations to maintain a positive view of the self and the world in the face of a health problem’ (Sharpe & Curran, 2006, p. 1161). One example of when successful psychological adjustment to a long term condition faces a number of additional challenges is when it is experienced in a different social context – for example as an expatriate or migrant living in a different country from that of birth and early life. One area of migration which is of particular interest given its increase and relative lack of research is ‘lifestyle’ migration (Benson & O'Reilly, 2009). This type of migration is ‘the very antithesis of being economically motivated, and [is] undertaken by those who prioritise quality-of-life and aesthetic concerns over income’ (King, 2002, p. 100). Many lifestyle migrants tend to be older (e.g., retirees) (Huete & Mantecon, 2011) and many relocate from northern Europe to Southern Europe which, through the search for sunnier climates, has also been referred to as ‘heliotropic migration’ (King, Warnes, & Williams, 2000). Although figures are difficult to determine given the lack of data on specific types of migration within Europe, it is generally accepted that lifestyle migration in older north European citizens to southern Europe is on the rise (e.g., King, 2002). Indeed, in a study looking at the number of foreign nationals in one part of Spain, the Costa Blanca, 78% of the inhabitants of one town are foreign nationals and 92% of those are from the EU. Consequently, the aim of the study was to provide an in-depth idiographic account of the psychological processes involved in the adjustment of older UK citizens with a long term physical health condition currently living in Crete, the largest of the Greek islands.

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