Human beings, like other living things, are dependent for the continuance of life on interchanges with their environments and on the compatibility of available materials and conditions with requisites for human functioning and development. Self-care is the continuous performance of sets of related actions by older children and adults that supply the materials and bring about the conditions that are regulatory of their own functioning and development. Such actions, when performed by responsible adults for socially dependent family members, are named dependent-care.
Self-care is human behavior that is self-directed and self-permitted. It is conduct or deliberate action or ego-processed behavior. It is behavior learned by children and adults within their contacts and communications as members of social groups—the family, the school, recreational groups, and so forth. The notion of self-care is implicit in expressions such as “You are not taking care of yourself” or “Mrs. B. can't take care of herself anymore.” In reality situations where persons express such judgments, we assume that the judgments are based upon observed behavior of the individuals referred to over some period of time. Awareness of the requirements for continuing care is expressed in the admonition of a seriously
This paper was originally presented at the Wesley Hospital Conference, “Hospitals in the Commu-
nity—A Vision,” in Brisbane, Australia, June 3–5, 1987.