Life goals in elderly women: A phenomenological study
The domain of the study was stated as: What is the fundamental structure of the lived experience of personal goals in elderly females? Eleven women between the ages of 71 and 83 years were interviewed and constituted a purposive sample. The interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed by the researcher. The descriptions of personal goals were analyzed using Colaizzi's (1978) phenomenological approach. Significant statements, formulated meanings of the statements, themes, and exhaustive description and the fundamental structure of personal goals in elderly women were developed.
Personal goals for the elderly women encompassed the terms goal and goal achievement. Goals are ongoing, experienced on a daily basis, indicate progress, include reaching, and reflect challenge, hope, love, and perseverance.
Health is the acme of personal goals and health correlates with goal achievement. There is contentment in the knowledge that one is able to maintain activities of daily living. The need to take care of self cannot be over-estimated and continues to produce a sense of achievement. A good level of health and goal achievement are interrelated conditions which must be present to confer the privilege of being with and enjoying family members, neighbors, and friends. The physical and mental power given to community service is a source of good feelings. The comprehension of helping and caring brings new awareness of place in the world. A good outlook on life is deserved as one recognizes altruism in the self. Travel is an important concept since family members and friends may reside in distant places; thus travel becomes crucial to maintaining positive family relationships and friendships. Happiness is seen as an outcome of good health and goal achievement.
The following themes were revealed: (a) health maintenance, (b) family relationships, (c) friendships, (d) goal achievement, (e) community service, and (f) travel. These themes are related to relevant statements and research results in the review of the literature on goals and quality of life in older persons.