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continuity of care, helper-gap, home care, nonequilibrium systems theory, transitions



  1. Porter, Eileen J. PhD, RN
  2. Ganong, Lawrence H. PhD


Despite marked interest in continuity of care and transitions experienced by older persons, there is little information available about the intentions of older women regarding changes that occur in their support networks. This article reports the findings of a descriptive phenomenological study of older widows' experience of home care and describes the experiences of 10 women who lost a key helper during the 3-year study. Compared with theories of continuity of care or transition, the findings are in keeping with the focus of nonequilibrium systems theory: bringing order out of disorder. Findings imply the need for holistic nursing interventions with older women who hope to continue living alone for as long as possible.