Ageing International

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 263–275 | Cite as

Older women's “ways of doing”: Strategies for successful ageing

  • Alison Wicks


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 analyzed 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.


Occupational Therapy Life Story Occupational Participation Life History Study Occupational Life 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Australian Research Council, (2005).Priority areas for ARC funding. Retrieved October 9, 2005 from Scholar
  2. Australian Research Council/National Health & Medical Research Council. (2005).ARC/NHMRC Research Network in Ageing Well. Retrieved October 9, 2005 from Scholar
  3. Baltes, P., & Baltes, M. (Eds.). (1993).Successful ageing: Perspectives from the behavioural sciences (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bateson, M. (1990).Composing a life. Middlesex: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  5. Belenky, M., Clinchy, B., Goldberger, N., & Tarule, J. (1986).Women's ways of knowing. The development of self, voice and mind. New York Basic Books.Google Scholar
  6. Bowers, B. (1988) Grounded theory. In: B. Sarter (Ed.),Paths to knowledge: Innovative research methods for nursing. Cited in Higgs, J. (1997). The context of qualitative research. In J. Higgs (Ed.),Qualitative research: Discourse on methodologies. Sydney: Hampden Press.Google Scholar
  7. Clark, F., Azen, S., Zemke, R., Jackson, J., Carlson, M., Mandel, D., Hay, J., Josephon, K., Cherry, B., Hessel, C., Palmer, J., Lipson, L. (1997). Occupational therapy for independent.-living older adults: A randomised controlled trial.Journal of the American Medical Association 287, 1321–1326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clark, F., Carlson, M., & Polkinghorne, D. (1997). The legitimacy of life history and narrative approaches in the study of occupation.American Journal of Occupational Therapy 51, 4, 313–317.Google Scholar
  9. Connell, R. (1987).Gender and power. Society, the person and sexual politics. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Connell, R. (2002).Gander. Malden, MA: Polity/Blackwell.Google Scholar
  11. de Beauvoir, S. (1988).The second sex. London: Picador.Google Scholar
  12. Denzin, N. (1994). The art and politics of interpretation. In: N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.),Handbook of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  13. Denzin, N., & Lincoln, Y. (Eds.). (1994).Handbook of qualitative research Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  14. DePoy, E., & Gitlin, L. (1994).Introduction to research: Multiple strategies for health and human services. St Louis, MO: Mosby.Google Scholar
  15. Dickie, V. (1997). Insights from a focused autobiography.Occupational Therapy Journal of Research 17, 2, 99–104.Google Scholar
  16. Frank, G. (1996). Life histories in occupational therapy clinical practice.American Journal of Occupational Therapy 50, 4, 251–264.Google Scholar
  17. Friedan, B. (1963).The feminine mystique. London: Victor Gollancz.Google Scholar
  18. Havighurst, R.J. (1961). Sucessful aging.The Gerontologist, 1, 1, 8–13.Google Scholar
  19. Hay, J., LaBree, L., Luo, R., Clark, F., Carlson, M., Mandel, D., Zemke, R., Jackson, J., & Azen, S. (2002): Cost-effectiveness of preventive occupational therapy for independentliving older adults.Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 50, 8, 1382–1388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Heidegger, M. (1962).Being and time, trans. J. Macquarrie & E. Robinson. London: SCM Press.Google Scholar
  21. Higgs, J., & Adams, R. (1997). Seeking quality in qualitative research. In J. Higgs (Ed.),Qualitative research: Discourse on methodologies. Sydney: Hampden Press.Google Scholar
  22. Holloway, I. (1997).Basic concepts for qualitative research. Oxford: Blackwell Science.Google Scholar
  23. Jackson, J. (1996). Living a meaningful existence in old age. In R. Zemke & F. Clark (Eds.),Occupational science: The evolving discipline (pp. 339–361) Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis.Google Scholar
  24. Jackson, S., & Scott, S. (Eds.). (2002).Gender. A sociological reader. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. King, L. (1978). Toward a science of adaptive response—1978 Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lecture.American Journal of Occupational Therapy 32, 429–437.Google Scholar
  26. Lake, M. (1999).Getting equal—the history of Australian feminism. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  27. Lemon, B., Bengtson, V., & Petersen, J. (1972). An exploration of the activity theory of aging: Activity types and life expectation among in-movers to a retirement community.Journal of Gerontology 27, 4, 511–523.Google Scholar
  28. Mays, N., & Pope, C. (2000). Qualitative research in health care: Assessing quality in qualitative research.British Medical Journal 320, 50–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Personal Narratives Group. (1989).Interpreting women's lives: Feminist theory and personal narratives. Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Polkinghorne, D. (1995). Narrative configuration in qualitative analysis.Qualitative Studies in Education 8, 1, 5–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. University of the Sunshine Coast. (2005).National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre. Retrieved October 9, 2005, from Scholar
  32. van Manen, M. (1997).Researching lived experience: Human science for an action sensitive pedagogy. Ontario: Althouse Press.Google Scholar
  33. van Manen, M. (2000).Phenomenology online. Retrieved July 8, 2001, from www.alt. Scholar
  34. Whiteford, G., & Wicks, A. (2000). Occupation: Persona, environment, engagement and outcomes. An analytical review of the Journal of Occupational Science Profiles. Part 2.Journal of Occupational Science 7, 2, 48–57.Google Scholar
  35. Wicks, A. (2003).Understanding occupational potential across the life course: Life stories of older women Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Charles Sturt UniversityGoogle Scholar
  36. Wilcock, A. (1993). A theory of the human need for occupation.Journal of Occupational Science: Australia 1, 17–24.Google Scholar
  37. Wilcock A. (1998)An occupational perspective of health. Thorofare, Slack.Google Scholar
  38. World Health Organisation. (1986).Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. Retrieved August 15, 2005, Scholar
  39. Zemke, R., & Clark, F. (Eds.). (1996).Occupational science: The evolving discipline. Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alison Wicks
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Health Services Development at the University of Wollongong in New South WalesAustralia

Personalised recommendations