Engaging With Aging: A Qualitative Study of Age-Related Changes and Adaptations.

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Publication Date


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Innov Aging


washington; everett; prmc


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: In the context of global aging, there is a need to better understand how older adults adapt to their changing health status. Engaging with aging (EWA) is an emerging framework proposed by Carnevali, which provides a new lens to understand an active, conscious daily-living process of managing age-related changes (ARCs) taken on by older adults. Study aims were to (a) describe the ARCs experienced by community-dwelling older adults and (b) identify the strategies and resources used by older adults to accommodate the daily-living challenges caused by the associated ARCs.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: We conducted semistructured interviews using a virtual card sort to gather qualitative data about ARCs and strategies to manage ARCs. Interviews were conducted virtually due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) restrictions.

RESULTS: Participants included 19 females and 10 males. The mean age was 77.45 years old (range from 64 to 98). Sixteen ARCs (e.g., changes in hearing, changes in stability, changes in sleep, etc.) were mentioned by participants, and their corresponding adaptations were discussed. Participants linked their adaptations to their ARCs based on their changing capacities and needs. Examples of commonly used adaptations included, for example, conserving energy, utilizing tools or technology, and being more conscious before and while taking actions. The challenges caused by COVID-19 in implementing the adaptations were also discussed.

DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS: Findings from this study demonstrate how older adults explore, generate, and utilize adaptive behaviors to address their ARCS. This study substantiates the EWA framework by showing common patterns among older adults in linking ARCs with adaptations. Implications for clinicians include using EWA to help older adults identify personalized health solutions that fit their capacities. Researchers may use EWA to design and test interventions by considering the specific ARCs older adults encounter and the attitudes they hold towards the ARCs.