end of life, nursing implications, older adults, perspectives about death, secondary analysis



  1. Sopcheck, Janet PhD, RN


Many older adults have experienced the death of a significant other. Understanding their perspectives from this past experience may heighten nursing insights about the type of care they desire at the end of their lives. The aim of this secondary analysis was to describe how the death of a significant other influenced older adults' perspectives about their end of life. Fifteen older adults residing in a continuing care retirement community participated in the primary study that explored the challenge of losing a loved one. Inductive content analysis was used to derive 4 themes to explain their perspectives about end of life: peacefully slip away-no heroics, familiarity-making plans that stick, tying up loose ends-what's left to do, and accepting-my time is up. This study's findings imply that nurses, with medical providers, should openly discuss with older adults their end-of-life concerns and care desired. Clinicians should receive education such as the COMFORT conversation and End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium courses. Further research should explore whether older adults may be more encouraged to formulate advance directives after the death of significant others and end-of-life issues in retirement communities. Increasing public awareness of palliative and hospice services is needed.