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An exploration of meaning in the lives of elderly men Swanson, Roy Michael


The purpose of this study is to qualitatively explore the phenomenon of meaning in the lives of community dwelling elderly men. Meaning and seeing one's life as having meaning are important components of living well and aging well. It is also important to recognize that aging is a time of continued growth and development. Interviews were conducted with six elderly men to explore the research question "Is there something or things so important to you in your life that they give your life meaning?" The data was analyzed using the Colaizzi (1978) phenomenological method of analysis to arrive at an exhaustive description of the phenomenon of meaning. From this study, the findings showed that elderly men continue to define and redefine meaning throughout their lives through the interconnectedness of relationships, outlook, interests, independence and health. The findings included a discussion of the similarities and differences in how young-old men (ages 65-79) and old-old men (over the age of 80) described meaning in their lives. The aforementioned five themes were common to both the young-old and the old-old cohorts. Implications for social work and recommendations for future research are identified.

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