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A Qualitative Analysis of the Meaning of Aging for Women With Disabilities With Policy Implications

Harrison, Tracie Culp PhD, RN

Original Article

This is a report of a hermeneutic phenomenological study of the meaning of aging for women with childhood-onset disabilities due to the effects of paralytic polio. Twenty-five women aged 55–65 years were interviewed 2 to 4 times regarding their life course experiences and the meaning they assigned to aging. Field notes, audiotaped interviews, life course charts, and demographics were used in thethematic analysis that produced 5 themes: Bodies Change, Disrupted Meaning, The Unpredictibility of Aging, Slowing Down, and Changing Perspective. Overall, the findings indicate that the experiences of disability due to the result of paralytic polio could not be separated from the experiences of aging, which ultimately led the author to question policies that distribute and fund benefits based on age and disability status without an understanding of the varied experiences of women with disabilities.

A report of a hermeneutic phenomenological study of the meaning of aging for women with childhood-onset disabilities due to the effects of paralytic polio. The findings indicate that the experiences of disability due to paralytic polio could not be separated from the experiences of aging. www.advancesinnursingscience.com

School of Nursing, The University of Texas at Austin.

Corresponding author: Tracie Culp Harrison, PhD, RN, School of Nursing, The University of Texas at Austin, 1700 Red River Austin, TX 78701 (e-mail: tharrison@mail.nur.utexas.edu).

The author thanks Alexa Stuifbergen, PhD, RN, FAAN, for her insight and support of this research, Debbie Volker, PhD, RN, for her review of a previous version of this manuscript, and Michael Erard, PhD, for his editorial critique of a previous version of this manuscript. The author also thanks the anonymous reviewers and the editor for their critique. This study was funded by grants from the John A. Hartford Foundation's Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowships and the Donald D. Harrington Dissertation Fellowship, The University of Texas at Austin.

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.