Suffering in silence: a qualitative study of older adults’ experiences of living with long-term musculoskeletal pain at home
Date of Original Version
Long-term musculoskeletal pain is a major, disabling, and often undertreated health problem among the increasing number of older adults worldwide. However, there is limited knowledge of community-dwelling older adults’ experiences of living with this type of pain. The aim of the study was to deepen the understanding of the phenomenon: how older adults experience living with long-term musculoskeletal pain at home. The study design was an inductive qualitative Reflective Lifeworld Research approach grounded in phenomenological epistemology. Data were obtained from 20 community-dwelling older adults, aged 72–97 years. Data were collected through open-ended interviews and analyzed to understand the meanings of the phenomenon. The essence of the phenomenon entailed suffering in silence and encompassed the following constituents: loneliness and restrictions in daily living; ways to endure and distract from pain; not being taken seriously; fear of the future; and valuing joy and meaning in life. Living with long-term musculoskeletal pain restricts access to the world and leads to a suffering in silence. Finding ways to endure and distract from pain and to focus on issues that give joy and meaning in life is predominant in efforts to balance restraints from pain in life. Suffering is reinforced by loneliness, a sense of not being taken seriously by health care providers and fear of an uncertain future. It is necessary to foster increased attentiveness and sensitivity in meeting the needs of each older adult and provide a care that alleviates suffering and preserves and promotes health and well-being.
Gillsjö, C., Nässén, K. & Berglund, M. Suffering in silence: a qualitative study of older adults’ experiences of living with long-term musculoskeletal pain at home. Eur J Ageing (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10433-020-00566-7
Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10433-020-00566-7
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.