Listening Deeply: A Narrative Inquiry into the Experiences of Older Adults in Relation to Place

  • Author / Creator
    Compton, Roslyn M
  • While living alongside Grandma’s stories of growing older in a small rural town in Australia, I became interested in the stories she told in her living room and what it meant to grow older in a place Grandma called home. As I thought narratively about her stories, I woke to the possibility that her stories of experience were being told within places which also reflected their social, cultural, and institutional significance. The opportunity to explore these experiences drew me further into narrative inquiry and a study in which I engaged with three women—Pauline, Alison, and Sue—who were 80 years and older. My research puzzles, informed by the stories I lived alongside Grandma, both as a granddaughter and nurse, included seeking meaning and understanding in older adults’ stories of experience, particularly those relevant to growing older, stories to live by, and place. As part of the conversations with participants, I gathered field texts which consisted of transcripts, photographs, and memory box items. The narrative accounts were co-composed with participants. Laying the narrative accounts alongside each other, I identified narrative threads which spoke to stories of remembering, imagination and playfulness, stories to live by, personal belongings, moving, feeling safe, and a sense of “not yet”. Together, these threads weave the fabric of place. It was equally important that the stories that participants and I co-composed and chose to tell in the final research texts challenged the status quo of perceiving older adults as a burden, and spoke creatively to the personal, practical, and social significance of our negotiated research texts. The research text describes the tensions in stories between my Grandmas’, my professional stories, and society’s and participants’ stories of what it means to grow older in relation to place. I realized at times I perceived older adults arrogantly, and the stories I lived alongside Grandma of “aging in place” and successful aging became my personal stories of what growing older in relation to place should look like. However, my relationships with Pauline, Alison, and Sue called me to pay attention to my arrogance, and by living alongside their stories, my past understandings shifted significantly and I realized who we are is deeply connected to place. I learned to embrace change within myself and to accept it as ongoing; not only in myself but also in people who surround me. Finally, I learned it is through co-composing stories with participants that I was able to shift narrative care to core care in my nursing practice. By doing so, care begins with experience rather than a person’s age, clinical disease, or diagnosis.

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  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
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    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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  • Institution
    University of Alberta
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  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Clandinin, D. Jean (Elementary Education)
    • Mello, D. (Brazil)
    • Cameron, B. L. (Faculty of Nursing)
    • Salami, B. O. (Faculty of Nursing)
    • Estefan, Andrew (Faculty of Nursing, Calgary)
    • Duggelby, Wendy (Faculty of Nursing)