Examining occupational transitions for persons aging with and without disabilities: An open-reflective dialogue process
Traditional strategies for revealing the meaning and relevance of occupational participation in everyday life have drawn upon a phenomenological approach comprised of interviews, focus groups and participant observation. This paper will introduce participants to an innovative narrative and interpretation process that evolved to uncover the meaning and strategies for managing occupational transitions associated with aging. The method used in this study drew upon phenomenology, an occupational perspective and the values of participatory action research. A researcher and a senior activist began a research journey in 2002 to illuminate the meaning of and to make sense of occupational participation across the lifespan from childhood to retirement for a person with cerebral palsy. The overarching theme from this initial exploration, that was felt to be significant for persons aging with and without disabilities, was the need for a better understanding of how to manage transitions from independence to interdependence such as driver to passenger or receiving assistance to save time to receiving assistance to guard against exhaustion. Both parties agreed that to gain a deeper appreciation of occupational transitions associated with a loss of participation required a lot of time, well founded trust and respect for one another, and mutual engagement (of the researcher and informant) in all research activities that drew upon each others strengths and resources. What resulted was the agreement to use story telling, based upon vignettes of occupations engaged in across the lifespan, and to use an open reflective dialogue process for interpreting the meaning and experience of these transitions. The active reflective dialogue process involved reframing stories using an occupational perspective and metaphors. Findings suggest three main processes for managing the transition from independence to interdependence that may be useful to individuals, to caregivers and to family members, Taking heart ˆ time for compassion, Facing losses head on ˆ time for regaining control, and Embracing wholeness ˆ time for me. These findings, the issues that underscore this research process and the details of the research methods will be elaborated upon and shared with participants to stimulate discussion on opportunities to use story telling and other approaches when researching occupational transitions in later life.
Lynn Shaw. "Examining occupational transitions for persons aging with and without disabilities: An open-reflective dialogue process" SSO:USA Annual Research Conference (2007).
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/drlynn/6
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