Well-being is based on a series of small, emotional experiences in one's daily life , and it is particularly important for the elderly living alone to increase these positive daily events. The results of the survey of 280 elderly people living alone in this study showed that the amount of tiny positive events in their daily lives was at a moderate to low level and there is still much room for improvement. From the overall perspective of the questionnaire, the elderly living alone scored the highest in the three items of self-expectation, life expectation and social support, indicating that they had more positive items in these three aspects. The reason for this may be that for the elderly living alone for a long time, the objects and sources of positive experience are relatively small, and it’s easier to obtain positive experiences from their own hopes, life expectations and people who can get in touch with. Therefore, on the basis of maintaining the original positive items, it is necessary to expand the items that the elderly living alone experience positively in terms of daily behaviour and activities and their own characteristics. In addition, we also found that although the emotional support in their daily lives came more from relatives, friends and neighbours, the most important and desired support was from their spouses and children.
The elderly living alone consider "good health and sports activities" as important events, indicating that the elderly living alone care very much about physical health (because only physical health can meet their most basic needs for physiology and safety ), and that it is important in their life that they can participate in physical activities with independent functions. "Freed om of time and doing what you love" as an important positive event for elderly people living alone is also a goal that many people pursue throughout their lives. Compared to most Chinese elderly people who help with their grandchildren, those who live alone feel that this is a great blessing for them, as they are able to achieve the complete to liberation, not being controlled by work or household chores. "Good family ties and child’s success" is the wish of the elderly living alone, and it is also a common wish of the elderly in China. Although the children of elderly people living alone are not living with them, family and children always have an important place in the hearts of elderly people, but they are deeply influenced by the traditional Chinese "family culture", as the concept of "family harmony makes everything happy" is deeply rooted in the minds of elderly people. Older people also see the success of their children as the greatest comfort for the rest of their lives. Some studies have shown that older people still have a strong desire to realize their self-worth, and many are willing to do so in various ways . This is also reflected in this study, where "events with friends and family, respect received and using new media" are important positive events for the elderly living alone. This is because in these activities they feel that they are not separated from society and have a better sense of being and value. The difference is that the daily life scope and social scale of the elderly living alone are small, and social activities are mainly limited to contact with relatives and friends. Based on the above analysis, health care workers should strive to create conditions for the elderly living alone to improve their health, exercise and learn new media, urge family members to have regular contact with the elderly living alone and help them to increase their social activities to enhance their positive experience of small daily events.
This study found that tiny positive events among elderly people living alone was mainly influenced by their monthly income, financial resources, literacy, frequency of visits, and two-week illness, which is similar to the results of De Labra, Fu Yi et al [25, 26]. In terms of monthly income, those earning less than ¥1,000 per month had significantly lower positive event scores than those earning more than ¥1,000 per month. It may be that people with higher levels of income are more likely to have their needs met in terms of purchasing goods, entertainment and seeking medical care, as income levels have a significant positive effect on life satisfaction and can give older people a greater sense of pride [27, 28]. In terms of financial resources, those who are supported by their children have more positive events than those who are on a pension, which is consistent with Daniel's study . This is because children who take the initiative to fulfil their financial obligations for the elderly while doing their own filial duty and caring will better compensate for the lack of security of the elderly , resulting in positive emotional experiences for the elderly. Frequent visits from children are an important factor in the well-being of older people , and this was confirmed in this study. In this study, those whose children visited them 2–3 times/month had significantly higher positive event scores than those who visited them 1 time/month or less, suggesting that appropriate visits from children can provide psychological support at a time when they are most eager for emotional comfort, which is conducive to increasing positive emotions and improving the mental health of older people. The level of literacy can determine the speed and variety of ways in which the elderly receive and acquire new things, thus influencing their positive experiences of everyday exposure. The results of this study showed that the number of positive events was significantly higher among those with high levels of primary and lower secondary education than those who were illiterate, which is consistent with the previous research . Health status is an important indicator of the quality of life and well-being of older people . This study found that older people living alone with a medical condition had significantly lower positive event scores than those without the condition, suggesting that recent illness not only affects the older people's own physical health, but also reduces their positive experience of things and the number of tiny positive events they experience.
There were differences in the categories of tiny positive events between urban and rural elderly living alone. The gap in the quality of life between urban and rural older people is gradually narrowing, but the gap still exists . This study found no significant difference between urban and rural elderly living alone in terms of the total scores of positive events, but urban elderly living alone scored higher than rural elderly living alone on the items of self-satisfaction, life satisfaction and social support, and correspondingly the latter scored significantly higher than the former on the items of self-expectation and life expectation. Specifically, the biggest difference in terms of self-satisfaction is that a significantly larger proportion of elderly people living alone in urban areas choose their previous occupation and retirement benefits than those living alone in rural areas. In this study, the former are mostly workers, while the latter are mainly farmers, and retirement benefits may also differ depending on the pension insurance system. In terms of life satisfaction, a much larger proportion of urban elderly living alone chose housing status, community environment and medical conditions than rural persons, which may be related to the higher level and diversity of community construction and health management in urban areas. In terms of social support, the proportion of urban elderly living alone choosing good family relationships and government care was relatively high. At present, although China's social security system has been gradually improved, the overall level of urban and rural areas is still different. In addition, the rural labour force includes more migrant workers and the proportion of family members who have been away from home for a long time is higher, both of which will affect the social support of the rural elderly . Therefore, in terms of life expectation, the elderly living alone in rural areas would prefer to have their families reunited, their children's lives and careers to be successful and their own retirement to be more secure.
In addition, the use of new media was more popular among older people living alone in cities, while older people in rural areas preferred planting and crafts. For those who have been farmers all their lives, being able to continue growing flowers and vegetables is a way to escape boredom in life. And planting and making crafts can also help them supplement the family income. The urban elderly living alone are more educated and have an advantage in pursuing new things. In terms of leisure activities, the biggest difference is that urban older people living alone prefer to participate in more social activities such as gatherings and sports activities, which may be related to their individual values. Urban older people may prefer to integrate into society to make the most of their remaining time and energy. In general, urban elderly living alone have more positive experiences in terms of pursuing new things, participating in social activities, satisfaction with their living conditions and the surrounding environment, and a realisation of self-worth, while rural elderly living alone have more positive experiences in terms of being able to use their free time, doing things they enjoy, and engaging in family matters. Therefore, when intervening in the health of elderly people living alone, community workers can make reference to the characteristics of tiny positive events of urban and rural elderly people to maintain and enhance the positive events of elderly people living alone.
The content of the questionnaire was obtained mainly through the participants' self-reports and may be subjective in its variability; the current survey was conducted mainly in one area of Wenzhou. Although the migrant population in Wenzhou comes from most provinces in China and accounts for 31% of the population, it is mainly derived from the central and western interior provinces and is not yet representative of the situation of all older people in China. The questionnaire in this study was designed by the research team themselves and no questionnaire similar to this study has been found, so the results in this study cannot be compared with the results of other studies.