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Int J Aging Hum Dev. 1989;29(1):67-82.

Aging: the lived experience.

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School of Nursing, University of Wisconsin, Madison.


This exploratory study examined the lived experience of aging in a group of 32 community dwelling adults aged fifty to eighty years (M = 68.4). Respondents completed in-depth interviews in which they described the meaning of aging, the "types of things" associated with aging in themselves and in others, and methods of coping with aging-related changes. Respondents' overall impressions of the meaning of aging were generally positive; however, the changes they associated with aging, both in themselves and in others, were almost uniformly negative. Five categories of coping activities were reported: compensation, stress management, maintenance, involvement with others, and alteration in meaning. In general, respondents reported high levels of satisfaction and effectiveness with respect to their coping activities. These findings suggest that individuals who believe they are coping successfully see aging as a positive period in their lives, despite the presence of a significant number of negative changes in themselves and in people close to them.

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