Journal of Adult Development

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 304–320 | Cite as

Developing a New Perspective in Late Life: The PATH Program

  • Valerie Lander McCarthyEmail author
  • Sharon Bowland
  • Emily Nayar
  • Jennifer Connelly
  • Ayani Woge


Self-transcendence is a developmental process inherent in late life that shapes one’s perspective on self, others, the material world, and the spiritual or existential dimension. Self-transcendence has been associated with well-being, life satisfaction, coping, depression, self-care, and health-related quality of life, but few interventions designed to promote development of self-transcendence or explore its effects on community-dwelling older adults were identified. This paper reports qualitative results obtained as part of a mixed methods pilot study assessing the Psychoeducational Approach to Transcendence and Health (PATH) Program in 20 older women at two community senior centers. The PATH Program, an 8-week theory-based intervention, combines mindfulness exercises, group processes, and creative projects, reinforced by at-home practice, to create an experience that is meaningful, emotionally supportive, and cognitively stimulating. The specific aim was to evaluate participants’ experiences of the PATH Program and the meanings ascribed to those experiences. Findings indicated group members gained a new perspective on life and death, discovered personal meaning in past experiences, and found support for positive self-identities, with new options for self-care and personal growth. The study supported the structure and contents of the PATH Program and suggested it merits further testing. The PATH Program has the potential to be a practical and affordable intervention available for use in multiple settings where older adults gather such as retirement communities, faith-based groups, adult day centers, and assisted living facilities.


Self-transcendence Health Well-being Older adult Community Low-income 



This study was funded by a grant awarded to Dr. Valerie Lander McCarthy by the American Nurses Foundation and the Midwest Nursing Research Society.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of NursingUniversity of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA
  2. 2.Eastern Washington UniversityCheneyUSA

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