Influences of nationalism and historical traumatic events on the will-to-live of elderly israelis

Sara Carmel, Leeat Granek, Alon Zamir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Purpose of the Study: Existing research suggests that will-to-live (WTL) is an indicator of subjective well-being (SWB), and that similar personal variables including physical and mental health, quality-of-life, and sociodemographic characteristics influence elderly people's WTL. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore additional factors which influence older persons' WTL. Design and Methods: Twenty-five elderly Israelis across the country were interviewed about what weakens and strengthens their WTL. The grounded theory method guided the data collection and analysis. Results: In addition to the previously reported aspects influencing WTL, analysis resulted in two new categories: nationalism and historical traumatic events. Negative influences of nationalism-related emotions on participants' WTL included themes of disappointment with the state, with children leaving the state, and with existential insecurity. Among the positive influences on WTL, participants mentioned pride in the state and in its development, personal security, and hope for a peaceful future. Under the category of historical traumatic events, participants reported posttraumatic stress and war anxieties, as well as satisfaction and revenge in continued existence, and appreciation for life in Israel compared with life before immigrating to Israel. Implications: Our findings indicate that nationalism and feelings of personal involvement in national developments play an important role in the lives of elderly Israelis to the degree that they contribute to their SWB and motivation to continue living. Practitioners and family members can intentionally arouse and strengthen positive nationalistic feelings in the elderly as a way to maintain and promote SWB and WTL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-761
Number of pages9
JournalThe Gerontologist
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • Existential security
  • Quality-of-life
  • Subjective well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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