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How Elderly Nursing Home Residents Transcend Losses of Later Life

Bickerstaff, Kathleen A. MSN, APRN; Grasser, Carol M. PhD, RNCS; McCabe, Barbara PhD, RNCS


Losses of later life can prove overwhelming to older adults. Some elderly persons seem to cope with these losses with a spirit of acceptance and serenity. The purpose of this study was to identify qualities in selected nursing home residents that allow them to transcend difficulties and continue living with some degree of contentment and satisfaction. Qualitative data were obtained in taped interviews from 95 functionally impaired residents (mean age 82.16 years). Content analysis resulted in several themes supporting the spiritual perspective of Reed's theory of self-transcendence: generativity, introjectivity, temporal integration, body-transcendence, and relationship with self, others, and a higher being.

The Department of Psychiatry, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha. (Bickerstaff)

College of Nursing, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha. (Grasser, McCabe)

Data for this study were derived from a larger study of health promotion in long-term care facilities funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research/NIH Grant No. 1R15 NR/ODO4036-01A2.

Corresponding author: Kathleen A. Bickerstaff, MSN, APRN, Department of Psychiatry, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-8470 (e-mail:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.