Stories from people living with frailty
Murray, Scott A.
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Lloyd, A., Haraldsdottir, E., Kendall, M., Murray, S. A. & McCormack, B. (2019) Stories from people living with frailty. Ageing & Society (In Press).
We describe the findings of a qualitative longitudinal interview study of a group of initially community dwelling frail older people, their informal and formal carers. We used a narrative approach to explore the role that narrative may have for people living with frailty. This has been less explored comparative to the experiences of those living with chronic illness. The frail older people told stories of their experiences that revealed three distinct shapes or typologies. These were either stable, unbalancing or overwhelmed and related to how the person managed to adapt to increasing challenges and losses and to reintegrate their sense of self into a cohesive narrative. Each is illustrated by an individual case story. Frailty is described as both biographically anticipated yet potentially biographically disruptive as older people may struggle to make sense of their circumstances without a clear single causative factor. Findings are discussed in relation to biographical disruption and reconstruction in chronic illness and the rhetoric around ‘successful ageing’. We conclude by drawing attention to the complex individual and social factors that contribute to the experience of living with frailty in later life.