The experiences of "aging" among formerly homeless adults with chronic mental illness: A qualitative study

Tazuko Shibusawa, Deborah Padgett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Little is known about the life course of older adults with serious mental illness who have also been homeless. Using 44 life history interviews with 25 study participants ages 40 to 62, this study used case study and thematic analysis to examine the lived experience of such individuals as they enter their mid- and later-life years. Participants, whose lives were marred by early-onset substance abuse, symptoms of mental illness and a descent into homelessness, spoke of an awareness of aging and premature mortality. Major themes that emerged were: (1) reflecting on losses, (2) growing older and wiser, (3) struggling with normality, (4) having space and time to reevaluate, and (5) awareness of the future and "time left." Life histories which focus on the person-in-context and their subjective experiences provide a viable research method to further the understanding of one of the most underserved and hardest-to-reach populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)188-196
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Aging Studies
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2009

Keywords

  • Case study
  • Homeless
  • Life course
  • Severe mental illness
  • Thematic analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health Policy

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