Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

The Oldest Old in Everyday Life

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

The Oldest Old in Everyday Life

Article excerpt

The Oldest Old in Everyday Life

by Ruth Dunkle, PhD, MSW, Beverly Roberts, PhD, FAAN, FGSA, and Marie Haug, PhD; New York: Springer Publishing, 2001; 180 pages, $39.80

In writing this book, the authors' stated goal was to extend existing knowledge of persons over the age of 85 for a wide audience of researchers, students, and practitioners. The book is based on data from a longitudinal study begun in 1986. Five interviews were collected over a nine-year period.

The original sample consisted of 193 community dwellers residing in the Cleveland, Ohio, area. After nine years, 23 subjects remained, the youngest 94 years of age. Interviews focused on the areas of health, disability, stressors, worries, coping strategies, and resources. The longitudinal design allowed for defining characteristics of the very old subgroup at different points in time, while assessing the process of stress and coping over time.

A unique aspect of this book is in the way in which it presents the experiences, aspirations, and beliefs of people in their 80s and 90s. The authors remind us that census data and aging reports are generally given for all persons over age 65; the oldest old group are not usually differentiated. This book focuses on well-researched topics for persons over 65 (e.g., self-perception, coping, functioning, mortality, and goals for the future), presents an updated and historical review of the research, and extends that knowledge, based on findings from the study, to the oldest old.

Chapter 1 presents an excellent review of the literature. It addresses functional ability, physical and mental health, and overall quality of life. Chapter 2 details the interview procedures and sampling methods. Tabular material summarizes findings for three subgroups - nonsurvivors (wave 1), wave 4 survivors (those who lived to wave 4, but not wave 5), and wave 5 survivors (those who lived during the nine years of the study). …

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