To a Deeper Understanding of Loneliness amongst Older Irish Adults
Loneliness can play a significant role in the wellbeing of older adults. This article describes a qualitative method for using case notes from the clinical records of older individuals in order to investigate the priority concerns spontaneously reported by older adults to deepen our understanding of both the context in which reported loneliness occurs in Ireland and the potential triggers. The participants in this study represent a cross-section of older adults who participated in the Technology Research for Independent Living Clinic (TRIL). Data were collected from participants through interviewer case notes at the TRIL centre in St James’s hospital, Dublin. 624 participants (431 females; 193 males) ranging in age from 60–92 years (Mean 73 years, SD 7 years) took part in the study. All were community dwelling and provided consent. A thematic analysis from grounded theory was used to evaluate the case notes for each participant. Preliminary results highlight the richness of phenomenological experience to enhance our understanding of loneliness and provide an opportunity to better understand the precursors and variability that loneliness may take. In this study we found themes in the case note analysis linking social loneliness with self-imposed limitations on social engagement due to declining health while predominate themes for emotionally lonely focused on psychological issues of stress and anxiety associated with adverse life events. The results suggest the importance of case notes to inform clinical practice. Qualitative results provided insights into differing live events of older Irish adults, which help distinguish the causal differences between social and emotional loneliness.