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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Older adults' narration and understanding of their experiences of being vitally engaged in living Terrett, Marianna Joy


Ten women and men between the ages of 69 and 85 participated in a study that explored how older adults narrate and understand their experiences of being vitally engaged in living. The research question was: How Do Men and Women Seventy Years of Age and Older Narrate and Understand the Experience of Being Vitally Engaged in Living? The purpose was to reveal the strengths that some older individuals possess and learn how they manage to cope with the many losses and challenges of later life while still being able to engage in living full, meaningful, and vital lives. Participants were chosen who were articulate in English, perceived themselves to be living vital lives, and had no cognitive impairment, mental illness, or physical disability that would exclude them from being interviewed for a long period of time. Positive psychology formed the theoretical framework for the study. A narrative inquiry was chosen as the methodology for the study because it is founded on studying individuals in-depth, focuses on the whole both in context and in time, and is accomplished through the stories participants tell and the meaning they make of those stories. One or, if needed, two interactive narrative interviews were conducted. The interviews were transcribed verbatim. A holistic-content approach was used to read, interpret, and analyze each participant’s story which resulted in ten individual written narratives. Validation interviews were conducted with the participants to check the rigor of the individual narratives. A categorical-content approach was used to construct the common themes in living a vital life across all the participants’ narratives which resulted in ten common themes and subthemes therein. This resulted in one written common themes narrative. Validation interviews were conducted with the participants, peer reviewers, and expert reviewers to check the rigor of the common themes narrative.

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