Establishing routines to cope with the loneliness associated with widowhood: a narrative analysis

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Abstract

Accessible Summary

What is known on the subject?

What this paper adds to existing knowledge?

What are the implications for practice?

Background:

Loneliness in older people is a public health concern in many Western countries. While not necessarily a symptom of mental disorder, it is often associated with depression and anxiety. Widowhood is a transition period during which many older people experience acute loneliness but over time develops strategies to manage it. Little is known about effective strategies that older people have used to manage the experience. The strategies older people used to manage this was the focus of this paper.

Aim:

The aim was to examine older widows’ experiences of loneliness.

Design:

The design of this study was a qualitative narrative analysis with thematic analysis and the participants were 40 older widow/widowers aged between 70 and 97 years.

Findings:

The study found that the participants negotiated the experience of loneliness following widowhood from an acute phase of experiencing an absence and the associated loss of routine connection to the establishment of new routines that provided new connections and a new sense of identity as an individual rather than a couple.

Conclusions:

It is important for mental health nurses to screen for loneliness and be able to facilitate interventions that may alleviate the experience of loneliness.

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