Aim. The aim of this study was to describe the meaning of living with a long-term disease.
Design. The study had an interpretive, descriptive design.
Method. Eight persons aged between 55–79 years with different diagnoses were interviewed. The interviews were analysed using a phenomenological-hermeneutic method.
Findings. The findings are presented in five themes and eleven subthemes. The theme ‘Loss and uncertainty threaten everyday order’ deals with the difficulties to sustain the goals and the ingrained order of daily living. The theme ‘Learning one's capacity and living accordingly’ concerns perceptions of the values of the outside world related to what is seen as normal, worthy or right. The theme ‘Maintaining fellowship and belonging’ sheds light on specific values in human interaction. The theme ‘Having a source of strength’ describes the need for confirmation and support when being put aside and suffering as a consequence. The theme ‘Building anew’ means that people with long-term diseases have the ability to live life in accordance with their own wishes, goals and values.
Conclusions. The interpretation of the text as a whole was that in the participants, long-term disease brought about a revaluation of the self and of prevailing values, and a sense of being revalued by the world.
Relevance to clinical practice. This study may help to gain a deeper insight into the complexity of living life with a long-term disease, and to the process of integrate the demands of the disease into daily life.