The Experience of Older Men Living Alone

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Geriatric Nursing


To explore the experience of living alone among older men. A phenomenological study was conducted, using Giorgi’s phenomenological method. Participants included 14 older men, aged 60 to 92, who live alone in midcoast Maine. Five themes emerged: self-growth, self-determination, structure, balance, and sense of purpose. For older men, the experience of living alone means having the opportunity for self-growth and the freedom for self-determination, while maintaining structure, balance, and a sense of purpose. Older men generally find life alone satisfying, because it provides them with an opportunity to independently and freely pursue activities that facilitate self-growth and maintain a sense of purpose. This study confirms the findings of a similar study conducted by Rubinstein in 1986, despite more recent literature that continues to portray older men living alone as sick, isolated, and depressed. Further research is needed regarding the relationship between living alone and health outcomes in older men. As the aging population continues to grow, nurses must understand what factors, other than living alone, exacerbate the health and social problems associated with older men living alone.


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