Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Sarah E. Abrams


Background: Although there is significant scholarly interest in defining the concept of successful aging, there are very few small-scale, in-depth qualitative studies examining the lived experience of women over 80 who self-identify as aging successfully.

Aim: The aim of this study is to explore the lived experience of a small group of community-dwelling Jewish women over 80 in a single county in Northwestern Vermont who self-identify as aging successfully.

Approach: This study has a phenomenological approach.

Method: Phenomenological interviews were conducted with five women over 80 years of age. Interview content was analyzed, and shared themes were synthesized.

Findings: Findings revealed the following shared themes: acknowledgement of extraordinary quality of life events and/or circumstances, extensive and ongoing social involvement with communities and/or individuals, and strong sense of self.

Conclusions: The lived experiences of participants who self-identified as aging successfully were characterized by gratitude for the lives they led and continue to lead, extensive and ongoing communal and interpersonal social engagement, and high levels of self-esteem and self-knowledge.

Implications for practice: Interventions focused on promoting gratitude, ongoing social engagement, and self-esteem/efficacy may improve individuals' chances of aging successfully; women over 80 respond positively given the opportunity to tell their story, and may benefit from affiliation with a religious community.



Number of Pages

63 p.