Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Six community-dwelling able older adults, aged seventy to eighty-five years, collaborated with the researcher as elder co-researchers in this participatory action research project. With the goal of increasing awareness about the experience of growing old and living in old age, the research team investigated the question: What can elders teach about the experience of growing old? Meeting weekly for eighteen weeks of discussion and written reflection, the research team members reported an experience of personal transformation in the way that they had come to understand and value their own aging process. Positive feelings were expressed both about living in old age and about the experience of meeting regularly to talk with their co-researcher peers. Topics chosen by the research team were discussed and were then presented by the elder co-researchers to a variety of live audiences, including graduate students, service providers in gerontology, health care professionals and general audiences. In their interactive presentations, the elders discussed the concept of elderhood as well as exploring many of the paradoxes of old age. These include, among others, vulnerability and strength, detachment and engagement, being and doing, and the relationship between physical diminishment and spiritual development. This research project both provides a method and highlights some of the merits of engaging older adults as fully-participating co-researchers in the study of aging. A discussion is included of the benefits, both to the elder co-researchers and to the research, of working collaboratively to develop both individual and shared understanding.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.