In the eye of the beholder : an investigation of insider perspectives on the concept of successful aging
Fogg, Terri Kim
Master of Arts
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This research study is an exploration regarding the concept of successful aging and what it means to older individuals whose voices have commonly been disregarded in research o f this nature. Data were collected from a sample of ten individuals ranging in age from sixty-six to ninety-five years old. With the goal of including the perceptions of those who have been excluded from previous research, the participants comprising the sample all resided in a long term care facility in northwestern Ontario, and all had a low socioeconomic status. In-depth interviews, following a semi-structured interview guide were conducted with each participant in order to gain their views concerning the concept. Each interview was tape-recorded and later fully transcribed. The data gathered was analyzed following an interpretive approach, and was reduced through a series of thematic coding. This research study contributes to the understanding that there is much to be learned from listening to those with lived experience. The findings indicate that according to the accounts of those interviewed, successful aging involves several components which are extremely interconnected. Specifically, the highly interrelated core themes to emerge were: having a sense of personal happiness; mental stimulation; acceptance; and adjustment. Participants also uncovered various facilitating factors which were felt to aid in contributing to the core themes identified, and in turn, to successful aging. In addition to the findings that emerged thematically from the data, an important element regarding the concept surfaced. Ultimately, the significance of personal perspectives was revealed as it was highlighted that successful aging is a personal matter which resides within each individual, and therefore can only ever be subjectively defined.