“Estar Tranquilo”: Using a Life-course Approach to Explore Perceptions of Well-being among Older Adults in Curicó, Chile





Life course, Older age, Chile, Latin America, Well-being


This study assesses perceptions of well-being between two groups of older adults in Curicó, Chile. One group (n=12) were residents of a long-term care center (known as ELEAM), while another group (n=13) were members of two clubs for older adults – Estrellitas del Vaticano (Vatican’s Little Stars) and Club Campo Lindo (Beautiful Countryside) – who lived in their own homes. Data collection consisted of life-story narratives to explore differences in how older adults in different living situations – long-term residential care vs. independent living – define and perceive what it means to be well in older age. Both groups were paired according to the variables of age, educational level, socioeconomic status, and physical status. In this article, I explore how both groups expressed their desire to estar tranquilo or “be peaceful” in their older age; however, each group achieved this state in different ways. ELEAM residents focused on fostering good relationships with fellow residents and maintaining their autonomy. In contrast, club members focused on practicing their religion, maintaining family relationships, and engaging in activities. Although participants shared similar backgrounds and lived through the same historical events (i.e., military dictatorship), their current situations impacted their perceptions of well-being.  For individuals to achieve their desired level of well-bing or to estar tranquilo required that they adapt to different living arrangements: club members had to adapt to living without their children, and ELEAM residents to living in an institution.

Author Biography

Carola Salazar-Norambuena, Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción

MA and PhD in anthropology with a graduate certificate in Gerontology, University of Florida

Faculty at the Departamento de Ciencias Sociales at the Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción, Chile.

Her research (since 2011) focuses on sociocultural aspects of old age and aging in Chile.


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