The lived experience of quality of life in an elderly population : a Heideggerian hermeneutical study

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McCartney, Sherry Gates
Arndt, Mary J.
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Thesis (M.S.)
School of Nursing
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The purpose of this Heideggerian hermeneutical study was to explore and uncover the hidden meaning of quality of life as experienced by a population of individuals 65 years of age and beyond. Five participants were interviewed and asked to describe quality of life as these individuals experienced it. Consistent with the method, purposive sampling was used in order to gain an understanding from subjects who have experienced the phenomenon and could articulate experiences. A group of retirees who meet monthly at a church were asked to participate. Interviews were audiotaped and the data was transcribed by this researcher. Audio tapes were destroyed when the study was completed. Transcribed data was shared with other researchers who are familiar with Heideggerian hermeneutics for the purpose of gaining insight into interpretation. When data was shared, names of participants and other identifying information was removed. Sharing of data for the purpose of interpretation is inherent in the Heideggerian method as described by Diekelmann, Allen and Tanner (1989). Participants were guaranteed confidentiality and were free to withdraw from the study without prejudice at any time. Data was analyzed in seven stages as described by Diekelmann, Allen and Tanner (1989). Findings included a constitutive pattern of quality of life and integrity as one experience. These two ways of being allowed the elderly to experience a sense of unity and completeness as well as a sense of fulfilling one's own destiny. The main theme supporting the constitutive patter was a strong belief and connectedness to a higher power. This faith allowed the elderly to connect to family, friends, church groups and memories. Anticipation of loss and change was a daily experience of being elderly, yet it allowed them to appreciate each day as it was lived without fear or loss of hope. Health promotion was significant because the elderly knew maintaining health was a way to maintain connectedness to that which was valued. The study was significant in contributing an understanding to the experience of quality of life in the elderly population.