A Descriptive Research Study on Factors that Impact Upon the Quality of Life of Elderly Women with Comorbid Chronic Illnesses; Three Women's Perspectives
Background: Women live longer than men and are more likely to live alone; this makes dealing with chronic illnesses more of a challenge for older women. Therefore, an understanding of what living with chronic illness is like for these women is essential in ensuring health professionals can meet their health needs. Aim of Research: The aim of this research study is to explore factors that older women living with comorbid chronic illnesses identify as key to maintaining or improving their quality of life. Design: This study uses a qualitative approach, with a descriptive methodology. Face-to-face: interviews were conducted with three women over the age of 80 who had been diagnosed with more than one chronic illness. These interviews were audiotaped, and the data analysed using thematic analysis. Findings: What emerged from this analysis of older women was the need for them to create meaning in their life, which is further explicated through three main themes: (1) coping with changing health, (2) the impact of family, and (3) attitude. Attitude to life and having a positive outlook were all factors these participants expressed as being essential to maintaining their quality of life. Conclusion: The quality of life of these participants is enhanced by the ability of these women to create meaning in their life. They do this by integrating their wealth of past experience into their present, reflecting back on their lives, but still gaining enjoyment from the here and now. Understanding of how chronic illness impacts, and is managed, by these women leads health care professionals to a greater understanding of being older and living with comorbid chronic illness. The findings of this research may assist nurses working alongside older people to focus on the making of meaning,which may facilitate these people to retain a sense of autonomy and control over their life.