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Wellness in Older Adults: A Concept Analysis


  • Siobhan McMahon MSN, MPH, GNP-BC,

    Corresponding author
    1. Siobhan McMahon, MSN, MPH, GNP-BC, is John A. Hartford Foundation BAGNC Pre-Doctoral Scholar, PhD Student, Arizona State University, College of Nursing and Health Innovation, Phoenix, AZ; and
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  • Julie Fleury RN, PhD, FAAN

    1. Julie Fleury, RN, PhD, FAAN, is Director, PhD in Nursing and Healthcare Innovation Program, Arizona State University, College of Nursing and Health Innovation, Phoenix, AZ.
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Siobhan McMahon, MSN MPH GNP-BC, College of Nursing and Health Innovation, Phoenix, Arizona State University, AZ. E-mail:


PURPOSE.  The purpose of this analysis is to examine the concept of wellness within the context of older adulthood. Identifying characteristics of wellness will clarify and develop conceptual strengths and limitations, providing a step toward evaluating its relevance in older adults and increasing utility in geriatric nursing.

ORGANIZING FRAMEWORK.  Rodger's evolutionary perspective.

METHODS.  Computer and manual searches were conducted of articles in the English language from 1950 to 2010, addressing wellness across the life span or among older adult populations. An inductive analysis of articles produced descriptive themes.

FINDINGS.  A historical time line traced the evolution of the wellness concept and its operationalization. Wellness has evolved from a little used concept to one commonly applied across many industries. Antecedents, attributes, and consequences of wellness are described. Concepts related to wellness are also identified.

CONCLUSIONS.  This concept analysis adds clarity to wellness in older adults. The state of wellness development as a concept in geriatric nursing is moving from conceptualization to use and testing in nursing theory and interventions. Increased knowledge of wellness will enable geriatric nurses to discover the strengths of older adults thereby promoting their ongoing growth and development while simultaneously guiding care for their changing and diverse health.