’ He wasn’ t in that chair’ : what loneliness means to widowed older people [Elektronisk resurs]
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- We have little robust empirical evidence that articulates what being lonely means to older people and even less knowledge about what loneliness means to older widows and widowers; this article addresses that deficit. We undertook a re-analysis of 125 interviews with older people (aged 55-98) that explored their experiences of widowhood. In this article, we focus on those interviews in which participants described themselves as experiencing loneliness by the spontaneous use of terms such as ’ ’ lonely’ ’ , ’ ’ loneliness’ ’ or ’ ’ lonesome’ ’ . Almost half of the participants (42%) described themselves in that way without any prompting from the interviewer. In terms of understanding and describing the meaning of loneliness, 50% explained loneliness in terms of absence of either their spouse, a physical presence in the house or people. One-third (34%) discussed loneliness in relation to time and place: night, weekends and home, and 4% described the emotional impact of loneliness. Fifteen per cent just said they were lonely without elaboration, assuming a common understanding of what loneliness means. Our findings suggest that widowed people’ s understanding and experience of loneliness resonates with the concept of ’ ’ emotional’ ’ loneliness, resulting from the loss of significant social and emotional attachment. This has important implications for the types of interventions that may be appropriate for remediating loneliness in this group.
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