Title. Older women nurses: health, ageing concerns and self-care strategies
Aim. This paper is a report of a study of the health and ageing concerns and self-care strategies of older female Registered Nurses currently working in direct care-giving roles in acute public hospitals and community facilities.
Background. Nursing is a rapidly ageing, and female-dominated workforce. However, despite the ageing of the nursing workforce, little is known about the needs and health concerns of older nurses.
Method. A feminist perspective was used and 12 female Registered Nurses aged 40–60 years, employed in various acute hospital and community health settings in Australia took part in qualitative interviews in late 2004. Narratives were audio taped, transcribed and analysed thematically.
Findings. Two major themes were identified. The first theme –Aches and pains of ageing– had four subthemes: Neglecting self: ‘You don't think of yourself first’; Physical changes: ‘The body is wearing out’; Living with pain: ‘You just work around it’; and Tiredness: ‘I’m just tired all the time’. The second theme –Evolving lifestyles: works in progress – had three subthemes: The power of exercise: ‘I feel great…and I’m enjoying life’; Healthy eating: ‘Low fat, lots of fruit and veg, little processed food’; and Adapting to ageing: ‘I think it’s quite a good time of life’.
Conclusion. Further research is needed to explore the need for protective work practices and promoting healthy lifestyle practices for ageing nurses. Managers need to recognize the changing health needs of older clinical nurses and offer, for example, flexible rostering and tailored exercise programmes to promote their health.