Thriving Across the Lifespan and Around the Globe: Day in the Life Visual Research Approach

Spirituality as Support for Thriving Elderly People at an Advanced Age: Ana’s Case Study

Author(s): Claudia Stella* and Letícia dos Santos Gouveia

Pp: 124-131 (8)

DOI: 10.2174/9781681088808121010017

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


This chapter discusses the importance of spirituality in the everyday life of a long-lived elderly woman. Thriving ageing consists of the ability to react creatively in the face of changes, by reframing identities, friendships, and family relationships. Furthermore, it involves being active in the community one is a part of, having autonomy and being capable of making one’s own choices, thus socially integrated and happy. Ana is an 88-year-old woman who lives by herself, works, drives a car, and assists numerous people through the social work she manages. A faithful Christian, Ana starts her day with prayers that prepare her for the various activities that await her. According to Erikson (1998), the psychosocial development of the ego continues through life, and, during the process of ageing, one must search for basic forces that emerged in previous stages of development in order to integrate one’s subjectivity with living life with a sense of meaning and purpose. In Ana’s case, in her environment and in her day-to-day life, spirituality (and hope) is the force that moves and integrates her actions. Hope appears as a resource that allows Ana to have an autonomous, thriving life that is filled with a sense of purpose, despite the risks and health vulnerabilities inherent in advanced age. Supported by studies about resilience as an ecological base, this chapter aims to provide a conceptual framework to investigate the personal and contextual factors involved in older, independent adults who thrive physically and spiritually.

Keywords: Spirituality, Elderly People, Advanced Age, Thriving Aging, Cultural Community, Hope, Independence, Agency, Thriving.

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