Experiences of loneliness among the very old: The Umeå 85+ project

Department of Nursing, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
Aging and Mental Health (Impact Factor: 1.75). 05/2010; 14(4):433-8. DOI: 10.1080/13607860903586078
Source: PubMed


This study aims to elucidate experiences of loneliness among the very old, who live alone.
Twenty-three women and seven men, aged 85-103 years, were interviewed about their experiences of loneliness. The text was subjected to qualitative content analysis.
The descriptions of loneliness were twofold: on the one hand, living with losses and feeling abandoned represented the limitations imposed by loneliness; and on the other, living in confidence and feeling free represented the opportunities of loneliness. The findings indicate that experiences of loneliness among the very old are complex, and concern their relations in the past, the present, and the future.
Experiences of loneliness among the very old can be devastating or enriching, depending upon life circumstances and outlook on life and death. We interpreted these two aspects of loneliness as feelings of homelessness and at-homeness.

34 Reads
  • Source
    • "Downe-Wamboldt54 stated that content analysis has external validity as a goal, and that the sample technique is central to external validity. The findings in this study must be understood in the light of the fact that six of the seniors lived alone; this could influence the finding, as living alone has been found to affect the experience of loneliness among the very old.55 Two other limits of our study are in the number of participants, with only one male informant. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Mental health promotion needs to be studied more deeply within the context of primary care, because persons with multiple chronic conditions are at risk of developing poor mental health. In order to make progress in the understanding of mental health promotion, the aim of this study was to describe the experiences of health-promoting dialogues from the perspective of community-dwelling seniors with multimorbidity - what these seniors believe is important for achieving a dialogue that may promote their mental health. Seven interviews with six women and one man, aged 83-96 years, were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. The results were summarized into nine subcategories and three categories. The underlying meaning of the text was formulated into an overarching theme that embraced every category, "perceived and well-managed as a unique individual". These seniors with multimorbidity missed someone to talk to about their mental health, and needed partners that were accessible for health dialogues that could promote mental health. The participants missed friends and relatives to talk to and they (crucially) lacked health care or social service providers for health-promoting dialogues that may promote mental health. An optimal level of care can be achieved through involvement, continuity, and by providing a health-promoting dialogue based on seniors' needs and wishes, with the remembrance that general health promotion also may promote mental health. Implications for clinical practice and further research are discussed.
    Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare 04/2014; 7:189-99. DOI:10.2147/JMDH.S59307
  • Source
    • "Even if getting old implies living with many losses (Fisher, Norberg, & Lundman, 2008; Graneheim & Lundman, 2009), the oldest old men in our study seemed to accept their losses and see new possibilities and meaning in their everyday lives. Using their memories helped them toward feeling reconciliation with life. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The amount of older people receiving home nursing care is increasing; in rural areas, they are at additional risk because of the distance between people and health care facilities. No specific studies have been found about oldest old men living alone and receiving home nursing care and the meaning of living alone in one's own home. The aim of this study was therefore to illuminate the meaning of being an oldest old man living alone in a rural area and receiving home nursing care. A sample of 12 oldest old men living in rural areas in the middle of Norway was chosen for this study. Narrative interviews were conducted, and data were analyzed using the phenomenological hermeneutical method. After a naïve reading and a structural analysis of the text, we identified three themes: feelings of insufficiency in everyday life, finding hope in life, and feeling reconciliation with life. The comprehensive understanding suggested that being an oldest old man living alone in a rural area means a struggle between a dependent existence and a desire to be independent. Living in the tension between independence and dependency is a complex emotional situation where one is trying to accept the consequences of life and loss-reconciling the wish to live with the fact that life will come to an end.
    International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-Being 02/2014; 9:23088. · 0.93 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "The Umea 85þ study which included Centenarians suggests that loneliness among the very old can be either a positive experience which is enriching or a negative experience which is devastating (Graneheim & Lundman, 2010). Indeed a study with 24 Centenarians in Australia (Koch, Power, & Kralik, 2005) suggests that strong levels of family support are a key to longevity. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this article was to describe socio-emotional themes in the stories of 16 Centenarians living in the United Kingdom. Sixteen Centenarians were recruited and interviewed face-to-face by members of the research team. Participants were invited to tell the story of their lives in line with the principles of participatory action research (Koch and Kralik, 2006). The resultant story was returned to the Centenarian and their significant others for their validation and ownership. Stories were further analysed alongside verbatim interview transcripts. The first author wrote her psycho-social interpretation of the socio-emotional content in each person s life. These psycho-social interpretations were combined to provide commonalities in experience. These six common experiences or themes were: Engagement in the world, Happiness and describing a good life, Stoicism, Sources of support, Sources of frustration and Talking about death. All participants had strong interests. They reported their lives as having been 'good' or 'happy'. They were resilient in the face of stress. Their frustrations pertained to visual or mobility impairments. While they were accepting the death of spouses, siblings and significant others, they were silent about the proximity of their own. In this article, we consider these themes in the light of previous empirical findings and theories. Centenarians indicated that life had been worth living and that it felt good to be 100 years of age. We explore the limitations of this study and discuss implications of the findings for those involved with the oldest old.
    Aging and Mental Health 06/2012; 16(7):811-8. DOI:10.1080/13607863.2012.684663 · 1.75 Impact Factor
Show more