Rural Elders Are Active in Own Care
An honorable mention for graduate-student research went to Susan M. Hinck, an assistant professor in the Department of Nursing at Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield, Mo. Her doctoral research at St. Louis University in 2002, supported by an individual National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Nursing Research, yielded the paper "The Lived Experience of Oldest-Old Rural Adults."
Hinck focused her study on 19 elders, whose mean age was 90.7 years, to identify how rural-dwelling men and women perceive the experience of living alone in their own homes. She wrote, "Older people should not be viewed as passive recipients of care but as active members of complex social networks."
She conducted three interviews with each participant in his or her home to explore the person's health and social status in the context of how each related to his or her space, belongings and relationships. In part, Hinck discussed the significance of objects and photographs around the home. Hinck noted, "Findings of this study challenge the myth that elderly people who live alone are isolated and unhappy. Even though many participants had limited transportation, being geographically isolated was not the same as being socially isolated. …