Graduation Year

January 2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Social Work

Major Professor

Nan Sook Park

Co-Major Professor

Victor Molinari

Keywords

Ego Integrity, Gerontology, Gerotranscendence, Hermeneutic Phenomenology, Spiritual Orientation

Abstract

ABSTRACT

Spirituality has been recognized as a positive factor in the lives of older adults, especially as it influences their emotional, mental, and physical well-being. This convenience sample study included 17 older adults residing at a faith based continuing care retirement community in Florida. The sample was represented by Caucasian older adults with an average age of 84 years, highly educated, majority Protestant and mostly female. Spiritual life reviews were conducted using spiritual life maps (Hodge, 2005) and semi-structured interview questions. Erikson's epigenetic stage of ego-integrity was used along with Butler's life review process and Tornstam's gerotranscendence as a conceptual framework for understanding late life development and spirituality in older adults. This mostly qualitative study used a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to analyze the responses to the open-ended interview questions about spirituality across the life-time. Ego-integrity was measured at the beginning and end of the spiritual life review study.

Paired t-tests found that participation in the spiritual life review did not influence the ego integrity scores of participants. Specifically, there were no statistically significant difference between the pre ego integrity score (M=82.94, SD= 8.235) and the post ego integrity score (M=84.47, SD= 7.551); t (16) = -.769 p= .453. However, in comparison, the qualitative analysis revealed that the spiritual life review does influence ego-integrity in some participants. Additionally, the spiritual life review confirms gerotranscendence and contributes to information about spiritual development in the lives of older adults. The conclusion offers a discussion about the study's limitations, strengths, implications for future research, and suggestions for clinical practice.