J Korean Acad Fundam Nurs.  2000 Aug;7(2):271-286.

A Subjectivity Study on the Meaning of Aging for Elders

  • 1Department of nursing, Kyungwon College, Korea.
  • 2Department of nursing, Chungnam National University, Korea.
  • 3Department of nursing, Hanyang University, Korea.


This study is designed to investigate what elders think about the meaning of aging. We have used Q-methods to identify meaning of aging from elders, and developed self-referenced surveys to analyze characteristics In this study, we used a non-structured method to select Q sampling. From 183 Q populations, we selected 36 Q sampling. A total of 32 persons sixty-years or older were randomly selected for P samples. When the Q-sorting was complete, we interviewed the participants at both end of the extremes (agree or disagree), and documented their responses. We used PC QUANL to process the data and used principal component analysis for Q factor analysis. There were five subjective types for the meaning of aging by elders. Of the 32 P-samples of elders, 11 were identified as Type 1, 7 as Type 2, 2 as Type 3, 8 as Type 4, and 4 as Type 5. Type 1 : "Matured elders" Elders wished the well being of their children, thought older persons should maintain good health, worried about becoming senile, and dependent God believing in life after death. Type 2 : "Assertive-Rights" Elders categorized as Assertive-Rights insisted on their rights to life as a person. Type 2 elders characterized themselves as people who should keep themselves healthy, become weak and lack sexual desires, act selfish like a child, need to be protected, and be financially independent. Type 3 : "Passive-Dependents" Elders characterize themselves as those who pray for their children's well being, worry about the children even after their death, and becoming senile. Type 4 : "Hopeless" The "Hopeless" type of elders characterized aging as a time to pray for their children, insignificant beings, thoughts were selfish and child-like, poor, worried about going senile, regret their life overall, and preferred to die than to live as an old person. Type 5 : "Attached-Present" The "Attached-Present" type of elders thought elderly characterized themselves as acting selfish and child-like, wiser, anxious, regret their life, stand aloof of greed and worldly things, being a model for the society, and deserving to be treated with filial respect. Thus far, Korean elders seemed to have a positive and negative meaning of aging due to the current changes in the society, value system, and family structures. The above five subjective meanings of aging confirm that we need to approach and nurse the elderly differently. Years of aging are a part of and a natural process of life with various physical, psychological, and sociological changes. Nurses need to assist elderly to find the positive meaning of their life by providing appropriate physical, psychological, and social support at an earlier stage in nursing. Based on this study, we could derive the following two implication from the perspectives of science of nursing to care for elders. 1) Based on the studies investigating the type of meaning of aging, we could develop tools to assist in nursing intervention programs for elderly. 2) Based on research on the meaning of aging for different developmental stages of life, we could develop a model for roles for different family members in nursing and caring for the elders.


Meaning of aging
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