An examination of resilience and coping in the oldest old using life narrative method

Kathryn Browne-Yung, Ruth Walker, Mary Luszcz

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    17 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    We aimed to identify aspects of late-life resilience and sense of self-identity and locate them within a life narrative to provide insights into methods of coping with the challenges of aging. To do this, in-depth interviews were conducted with 20 oldest-old adults (aged 88-98 years) recruited from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Design, analysis, and interpretation of the study were informed by McAdams' life narrative theory, using concepts of redemption and contamination. Participants discussed their autobiographies and recounted significant life events. Interviews drew on McAdams' approach to elicit positive, negative, vivid, and turning point experiences. Analysis involved coding transcripts of the emergent personal narratives specifically to understand a "resilience story." This included data immersion and review of interview transcripts. Emergent codes were identified and discussed among the researchers. Although no contamination events were narrated, we identified the following themes: Adapting to aging-related physical challenges; Changing social networks; Continuity in sense of identity to maintain unity and life's purpose; and Redemptive capacity to cope positively with life challenges. This study fills a gap in knowledge on resilience from a personal perspective by the oldest old. Older people may benefit from interventions that harness positive coping strategies and foster social connections and meaningful activities, especially at times of loss or grief.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)282-291
    Number of pages10
    JournalThe Gerontologist
    Volume57
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

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