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J Gerontol Nurs. 2012 Aug;38(8):45-53. doi: 10.3928/00989134-20210703-08. Epub 2012 Jul 15.

Loneliness in older adults: an embodied experience.

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  • 1Goldfarb School of Nursing, Barnes Jewish College, Saint Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Loneliness is of significant concern in the older adult population. Loneliness has been associated with old age because of multiple losses that may occur. These include loss of health, social status, friends, and/or spouse. There is a gap in the literature with regard to understanding the meaning of loneliness in older adults. Interpretive phenomenology was used for this study, involving multiple interviews with older adults to explore the meaning of loneliness. Findings revealed that many participants experienced loneliness as a result of disrupted meaningful engagement with others due to different age-related changes. Loneliness was embodied as it was expressed through the participants' bodies in several ways, including fatigue, tension, withdrawal, and emptiness. Conclusions from this study reveal the need for nurses to become more aware of loneliness in older adults as a significant health issue.

Copyright 2012, SLACK Incorporated.

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