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Aging as an balancing act: Meanings of growing old–The Umeå 85+ Study
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing.
(English)In: The International Journal of Aging & Human Development, ISSN 0091-4150Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-2154OAI: diva2:140004
Available from: 2007-02-23 Created: 2007-02-23Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Living in consolation while growing very old
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Living in consolation while growing very old
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Growing very old into late life means increased suffering that may lead to despair and call for consolation. This thesis looks at the lived experience of very old people and aim at illuminating the meaning of growing very old and the meaning of consolation when growing old. It is part of the Umeå 85+ Study, and of the Consolation Study at the Department of Nursing, Umeå University. The participants were 85, 90, or 95 years old or over, living in the county of Umeå. The thesis comprises four studies with data from thematic interviews that are analysed using a phenomenological hermeneutic method (Studies I, II, IV) and qualitative content analysis (III).

For Study I the transcribed interviews of 15 85-year-old people were analyzed and disclosed the meaning of growing very old as: maintaining one’s identity in spite of the changes that come with aging—that is, being able to balance change with feeling the same. This was based on four themes: balancing weakness and strength, balancing slowness and swiftness of time, balancing reconciliation and regret, and balancing connectedness and loneliness. In Study II, interviews with 12 people between 95 and 103 years old were analyzed and disclosed the meaning of being very old as living in hope and being on the move, based on two themes: Being in stillness and in movement, which involves being in one’s aged body, unable to move, and being in the stillness of the inner person occupied with remembering and reconciling life; and Being at the threshold ready to let go, which implies being at peace and feeling confident despite the anxiety of dying. Study III describes how 90-years old and older people perceive consolation. Qualitative Content analysis of 49 interviews revealed four categories perceiving consolation connected to God, others, self, and things and presented in two themes: “Living amidst consolation in the presence of God” and “Seeking consolation”. Study IV examines the meaning of being consoled when growing very old. The interviews with 13 people over 85 years who scored high on a self-transcendent scale were analysed and disclosed the meaning of being consoled as an immediate experience of being carried and embraced by God and supported by the loving care and affection from others and the world, being relaxed, peaceful and full of joy and experiencing hope. The interpretation was based on the main theme Feeling whole, comprising the following themes: Being connected to self, Feeling connected to fellow beings and the world, Feeling connected to God.

The meaning of growing very old and the meaning of consolation when growing very old point at a way of aging into late life interpreted as living in consolation. Reminiscence, reflecting on life and transcendence are resources when growing very old that were interpreted to being related to consolation. Thus growing very old and living in consolation is to transcend and come in communion with the sacred; with goodness, light, joy, beauty and life and hope, carried by a connectedness to God (e.g. Higher power) and supported by a connectedness to fellow beings and the world.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Omvårdnad, 2007. 51 p.
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1087
aged, aging, phenomenological hermeneutic, transcendence, consolation
National Category
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1029 (URN)978-91-7264-265-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-03-16, Aulan, Vårdvetarhuset, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 09:00 (English)
Available from: 2007-02-23 Created: 2007-02-23 Last updated: 2009-09-24Bibliographically approved

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