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Elderly women's experiences of living with fall risk in a fragile body: a reflective lifeworld approach


Leena Berlin Hallrup Institution of Caring Sciences and Social Work Växjö University Georg Luckligs väg 8 SE-351 95 Växjö, Sweden


The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the lived experience of fall risk from a lifeworld perspective in elderly women with previous fragility fractures. Thirteen elderly women with a high risk of fall and fracture, aged 76–86, living in their own homes in rural areas, were recruited from a voluntary fracture prevention programme. All women had a history of fragility fractures and were interviewed in their homes from spring to autumn 2004. A phenomenological reflective lifeworld approach was chosen to analyse in-depth interview data. The study was conducted within an interdisciplinary research group inspired by dialogical research. Elderly women's life space has been narrowed due to advanced age, physical injury or by efforts to prevent new injuries leading to changes in self-perception. However, the women seek strategies to challenge limitations and insecurity, and strive to retain mobility and daily life routines. The four major constituents of the phenomenon ‘elderly women's experiences of fall risk’ emerged in this study: a changing body, living with precaution, ambiguous dependency and influence and need for understanding. Employing the women's thoughts and resources in trust-based dialogues with caregivers may strengthen their concord and the prospects to continue an active life. Elderly women seek strategies to challenge limitations and feelings of insecurity, and strive to maintain mobility and daily life routines. A trust-based care respecting the preferences of the women seemed to stimulate behavioural change in maintaining an active life.