Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Science

Dissertation Committee

Patricia A. Roth, EdD, RN; Evelyn R. Anderson, PhD, RN; Jane M. Georges, PhD, RN


elderly, Gerontology, homebound, nursing, Phenomenology, women


Elderly women comprise one of the fastest growing segments of the population in the United States. This growth is due in large part to increasing longevity, and a woman's life expectancy has now reached 79 years. However, along with those added years comes an increase in morbidity and a greater likelihood of living alone. This study describes the life experience of a specific group of elderly women, those who are homebound and living alone. When elderly women are included in research, the same combination of descriptors used for the participants in this study has not been incorporated. Consequently, while much has been inferred about this specific group of women, little is actually known. Using a phenomenological method, the lived experience of homebound elderly females living alone was explored. Interviews were conducted with fourteen women who were 65 years of age or older, lived alone, and were able to leave their homes only with great effort and/or the assistance of others. The phenomenological methodology of Giorgi was used to analyze the data from these interviews. Five main themes emerged from the data: slipping away, balancing dependence and independence, making the most of it, connecting and looking inward. Portions of the women's lives were slipping away as they passed their life expectancy and were living on borrowed time. Contacts with friends and relatives had been lost due to death and distance. In response to these changes, the women had to find a balance between dependence and independence. To maintain a degree of independence, it was necessary that they accept assistance in getting around and maintaining their home. However, the women were making the most of their lives, and living alone did not make them lonely. Those who were most positive about their lives all resided in senior complexes. These women stayed in contact with others and were likely to give assistance or gifts to others. They also looked inward to discuss where they found their strength, reflected on their past, and offered advice to younger women who would be following in their footsteps.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons