• Preclinical disability;
  • women;
  • phenomenology;
  • coping


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to describe coping practices used by older women during preclinical disability.

Design: This paper was derived from qualitative data gathered during a larger multimethod longitudinal study. Twelve women (60 to 80 years of age) participated in baseline functional performance measures and then repeated in-depth interviews and participant observations over 18 months.

Methods: A hermeneutic approach was used to interpret the in-depth interviews, participant observations, and field notes using three interrelated processes of thematic, exemplar, and identification of paradigm cases to identify coping practices.

Findings: Women coped with functional decline, such as difficulty getting up from the floor, in many different ways. Coping practices were grouped into five themes: resist, adapt, substitute, endure, and eliminate.

Clinical Relevance: These findings suggest that nurses need to realize outward appearances may mask the level of effort required for older women to complete daily activities.