Older women's experience of living with chronic leg ulceration


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Abstract

In this study the authors sought to gain insight into the lives of older women, to focus on the experience of living with leg ulcers and to explore women's views by talking to them about their experiences. Twelve English-speaking women aged over 70 years who had experienced leg ulceration for 3 years or more were interviewed. Analysis of the interview text revealed two overarching themes: (i) gaining and maintaining control over vulnerable limb(s); and (ii) lifestyle consequences of chronic leg ulceration and impaired mobility. These themes contained several subthemes including: (i) nagging pain; (ii) self-expertise and infection; (iii) leakage, smell and embarrassment; (iv) fighting for skin and limb integrity; (v) wearing non-preferred apparel; (vi) loneliness; and (vii) coping, determination and hope. The findings of this research show that elderly women who live with leg ulcers experience multiple consequences. While the everyday problems of living with an unhealed wound are addressed by the community nurse, other more subtle consequences may be overlooked. Recognition of the complex and sometimes hidden concerns of these women could help to avert the sense of helplessness which currently exists.

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