Perspectives on existential loneliness. Narrations by older people in different care contexts

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The aim was to explore existential loneliness in different long-term care contexts as narrated by older people. A qualitative secondary analysis was performed of 22 interviews with older people in residential care, home care, and specialized palliative care. The analysis started with naive reading of interviews from each care context. As these readings showed similarity with Eriksson's theory of the suffering human being, the three different concepts of suffering were used as an analytic grid. Our result indicates that suffering and existential loneliness are interrelated for frail older people. Some situations and circumstances that trigger existential loneliness are the same in the three care contexts while others differ. In residential and home care, unnecessary waiting, not feeling at home and not being encountered with respect and dignity can trigger existential loneliness while seeing and hearing others suffering can give rise to existential loneliness in residential care. In specialized palliative care, feelings of guilt and remorse are prominent in relation to existential loneliness. In conclusion, different healthcare contexts have various conditions for providing care that meet the existential needs of older people. Hopefully our results will be used as a basis for discussions in multi-professional teams and among managers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2184032
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023-Mar-05

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Nursing (30305)


  • Humans
  • Aged
  • Loneliness
  • Narration
  • Emotions
  • Existentialism
  • Guilt


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