- Journal of Gerontological Nursing
- August 2012 - Volume 38 · Issue 8: 45-53
Loneliness is of significant concern in the older adult population. Loneliness has been associated with old age because of multiple losses that may occur. These include loss of health, social status, friends, and/or spouse. There is a gap in the literature with regard to understanding the meaning of loneliness in older adults. Interpretive phenomenology was used for this study, involving multiple interviews with older adults to explore the meaning of loneliness. Findings revealed that many participants experienced loneliness as a result of disrupted meaningful engagement with others due to different age-related changes. Loneliness was embodied as it was expressed through the participants’ bodies in several ways, including fatigue, tension, withdrawal, and emptiness. Conclusions from this study reveal the need for nurses to become more aware of loneliness in older adults as a significant health issue.
Dr. Smith is Associate Professor of Nursing, Goldfarb School of Nursing, Barnes Jewish College, Saint Louis, Missouri.
The author has disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise. Dr. Smith thanks Dr. Lee Smith for all of her skilled guidance, expertise, and words of encouragement.
Address correspondence to Judith M. Smith, PhD, RN, GCNS-BC, Associate Professor of Nursing, Goldfarb School of Nursing, Barnes Jewish College, Mailstop 90-36-697, 4483 Duncan Avenue, Saint Louis, MO 63110; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Received: September 11, 2011
Accepted: February 13, 2012
Posted Online: July 15, 2012