UNDERSTANDING AGING WELL FROM THE PERSPECTIVES OF HOMEBOUND OLDER ADULTS
Rogers, Debra Lynn
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With the population becoming “grayer” the United States has begun to question what it means to be aging well. Previous research has examined what it means to age well how to diminish age-related losses, although there is a lack of consensus about what this means. The older adult population is diverse regarding race, ethnicity, sex, culture, sexual orientation, and ability; thus, aging well can mean different things to different people. Due to this diversity, the subjective perspectives and experiences of older adults are important to understand the processes of aging well and expand its conceptualization to a heterogeneous population of older adults. This thesis responds to my research question, “What does aging well mean to older adults who are living with aging-related disabilities and/or chronic illness in the context of their daily lives?” The study involves analysis of secondary qualitative data of individual interviews with homebound older adults as part of a larger study about aging well in Arlington, Texas. Through this analysis, I build upon previous conceptual models of aging well from the literature and that developed by a research team composed of members of the parent study. My findings suggest that having a close housing community, engaging in the outer community, being able to give back, environmental structures, and resiliency are all factors in an individual’s ability to age well who are living with aging-related disability and/or chronic illness. Discussion is provided regarding these findings and implications for social work practice and future research.