• health;
  • health promotion;
  • interpretative–phenomenological approach;
  • nursing;
  • older hospitalized patients;
  • qualitative research

Older peoples' health varies considerably and the number of older people who need hospital care will increase in the future. Traditionally, the focus of nursing care in hospitals is oriented towards diagnosis and treatment of disease, although health and health promotion are inherent in theories and definitions of nursing. This is an important issue in health politics, in new laws and regulations in Norway. However, it was difficult to find research-based knowledge about how nurses work with health promotion and health related to older hospitalized patients. This study aimed at describing older hospitalized patients’ experiences of health and health promotion. The study used a descriptive and explorative qualitative design, with an interpretative-phenomenological approach. Ten older hospitalized patients, recruited through purposeful sampling, were interviewed during their hospital stay. The informants described health as Being able to be the person I am, to do what I want to do, and feel well and have strength. Health promotion was described as Being enabled through being the person I am, through information and knowledge and through hope and motivation. The findings may be applied to nursing practice in order to focus on promotion of health as an individual process built upon the unique person's life and situation, supported by nursing care and medical treatment.