Hope and living with long-term conditions
Growing older and living with long-term conditions is an emerging area of empirical research (Giddings et al. 2007, Roy & Giddings 2012). These authors found that health professionals sometimes assume that symptoms and limited functions were a consequence of age and not attributable to the long-term illness that could be ameliorated. As populations age and people are living longer, they are more likely to have a long-term condition or long-term illness (WHO 2005). Roy and Giddings (2012) found that older people with long-term conditions viewed their ageing positively, although their conditions accelerated their ageing. More research on ageing and living with chronic conditions is required.
The article in this issue of JAN (pp. 1211–1223) by Duggleby et al. (2012) presents a metasynthesis of qualitative studies that have investigated the experience of hope of older people with long-term illnesses and makes an important contribution to our knowledge and understanding in this field. Its strengths are in the number of studies located from a variety of countries and populations with differing conditions. All illnesses were life-threatening when first reported before becoming a long-term condition that people live with.
Hope is a psychosocial resource that may be different for older people compared with younger people in its interaction with suffering. They found that hope represented an integration of the processes of transcendence and positive reappraisal. They conclude that the resources for hope are internal and external, and that strategies are warranted to help older people find meaning and positive reappraisal, while living and ageing with chronic conditions to maintain hope. As such, this paper not only provides a synthesis of knowledge to inform our understanding of older people living with chronic conditions and the importance of hope but also provides evidence to base future lines of inquiry and inform clinical practice.