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Keywords:

  • chronic illness;
  • focus groups;
  • nurse–patient relationships;
  • qualitative approaches;
  • women's health

Abstract

Title. Women's experience of ageing with a chronic condition

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study to explore the experiences of ‘almost old’ women as they grow older while living with a chronic condition.

Background.  Little is known about the contextual effects of ageing and how it shapes and is shaped by a woman's chronic illness experience. Nurses’ understanding of this phenomenon can have positive effects on how their client accesses and responds to healthcare.

Method.  Seven women aged between 50 and 58 years participated in this interpretive descriptive study that explored the issues of ageing with a chronic condition. Three focus groups were held between March 2003 and March 2004. Transcriptions were analyzed after each focus group. Participants were given the opportunity to respond to the findings as the analysis progressed.

Findings.  The experience of living with a chronic illness foreshadowed what was to come with ageing and embodied the ageing process: it was just part of their lives. Alongside this, the women now felt less out of place. Their peers were catching up and beginning to experience aspects of participants’ everyday reality. The women, however, experienced double jeopardy because ageing amplified the ongoing vulnerabilities of living with a chronic condition.

Conclusion.  Nurses who recognize the resourcefulness and expertise of women who live with a chronic condition can effectively be co-strategists in their helping them to age well.