The experiences of older people who live with a long-term condition

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Abstract

Aim

The aim of this study was to gain insight into the experiences of people aged 65 and older who have learned to live with a pre-existing long-term condition.

Method

A qualitative approach and the principles of narrative research were used to learn as much as possible about the individuals' stories. A focus group of five men was interviewed and two women were interviewed as a pair.

Findings

Existing skills in condition management and interactions with professionals are transferable to new health needs that older people develop, but additional, age-related problems can affect management of long-term conditions. Progressive long-term conditions may become more difficult to manage with age, and it is difficult to distinguish between ageing processes and deterioration of pre-existing long-term conditions. Age-related social and financial changes and society's perception of older people may also present challenges to condition management.

Conclusion

Nurses who care for older people should take into account the effects of the person's long-term condition and the ageing process when assessing their needs; understand that people may be reluctant to ask for practical assistance; explore existing support mechanisms that people have in place and their sustainability; and advocate with people to secure appropriate choices related to their health needs.

Jaqui Hewitt-Taylor and colleagues explore the challenges faced by this group of patients and the nurses who care for them

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