• ageing;
  • interpretive description;
  • long-term conditions;
  • chronic illness;
  • nursing;
  • primary health care;
  • women’s health

roy d.e. & giddings l.s. (2012) The experiences of women (65–74 years) living with a long-term condition in the shadow of ageing. Journal of Advanced Nursing68(1), 181–190.


Aims.  This paper reports on a study that explored experiences of women (65–74 years) as they grow older while living with a long-term condition. The phenomenon of focus was ‘ageing with a long-term condition’, rather than the experience of developing a long-term condition after reaching older adulthood.

Background.  People with long-term conditions are living into older age. There is limited literature on the nexus of ageing with a long-term condition. It is known that ageing shapes and is shaped by women’s experiences of living with a long-term condition.

Methods.  In this interpretive descriptive study, nine women participated in a series of three focus groups held in 2007 and 2008. Transcripts were analysed thematically and participants given the opportunity to respond to the analysis.

Findings.  ‘In the shadow of ageing’ was the overarching theme. The women reported that although their long-term condition remained the referent point in their daily lives, for others including health professionals, the focus was on their appearance and the effects of older age. To overcome the back-grounding of their long-term condition, the women used ‘strategies already-in-place’; it became ‘just another thing to deal with’. Ageing, however, remained ‘a privilege’.

Conclusion.  If health professionals focus on age and its concomitant effects, rather than a woman’s long-term condition, they are at risk of delivering inappropriate care. They need to be prepared to advocate for the special needs of older women who live with a long-term condition and remain cognizant of the women’s resourcefulness and expertise developed over time.