Older women's 'ways of doing': Strategies for successful ageing
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This paper discusses older women’s “ways of doing” which are occupational strategies that facilitate successful ageing by maintaining participation in meaningful occupations. The paper adopts an occupational perspective of health. This particular view of people as occupational beings who need to participate in personally meaningful occupations for their health and well being is central to occupational science, which provides the paper’s theoretical framework. The occupational strategies were identified in a life history study exploring the occupational life course six rural Australian women. The study data were the women’s life stories, which were narratively analysed from occupational and feminist perspectives. Analysis revealed the women developed strategies, at each life stage, in response to the explicit and implicit exclusions they experienced in relation to occupational participation, within familial and social contexts. This paper focuses on strategies they developed in late adulthood as a means of facilitating successful ageing. Although the study revealed that each woman developed unique strategies to meet her personal needs for participation, there are some common features of their strategies. This paper describes five significant features of the strategies which were highlighted when they were considered collectively. To enhance understanding of older women’s “ways of doing”, two case studies from the life history study are presented and illustrated with examples of occupational strategies. The paper concludes with a discussion on the implications of occupational strategies and an occupational perspective of health for policies and programs that promote successful ageing.