Finding Meaning in Later Life: Gathering and Harvesting the Fruits of Women’s Experience is an exploration in understanding the psychological tasks inherent for women in creating and maintaining purpose as they mature and enter their later years. With ever-increasing lifespan for elders, it becomes important for a society that glorifies youth to meet the challenges of this developmental milestone.
Many books and articles on post-midlife are written from a biological and behavioral stance—with quantitative data supporting concrete lifestyle recommendations for "successful aging." Using this lens, successful aging is often defined as having good to excellent health, no disabilities in activities of daily living, good cognitive functioning, and living in the community. That "received wisdom" leads to the conundrum that the only path to successful aging is by not aging! This book challenges current thoughts on aging, expanding our perspective such that purpose and meaning in later years derives from inner resources that are not dependent on biological and physical states of being. Its conclusions stem from the direct experience and voices of mature women, obtained through qualitative research. The results of this study shed light on existential theories, bringing them to life with added weight and traction. Ultimately, the ideas explored here unfold as a map to navigate this often-misunderstood stage in life.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. The Need for a New Outlook
Chapter 2. How We Age: Theories and Research
Chapter 3. Women’s Voices and Lived Experience:
Existential Pursuits and Affirmation of Life
Chapter 4. Women’s Voices and Lived Experience:
Human Relationships and Resiliency
Chapter 5. Treatment Implications for Therapists Working with Older Adults
Chapter 6. Where Do We Go from Here?
Chapter 7. Final Thoughts: Big Data, Depth Psychology, and Poetry
Appendix A. Methodology
Appendix B. Screening and Interview Guides
Marcia Nimmer received her Psy.D. from Pacifica Graduate Institute and was previously a licensed clinical social worker. She is currently working as a psychotherapist at the Wright Institute in Los Angeles. As a woman in her late fifties who began doctoral studies after raising five children, she became interested in the developmental stage that lies between midlife and old age. Her qualitative research on the subject of finding meaning in later life emerged as an outgrowth of her own personal journey.
“Finding Meaning in Later Life is a work of scholarship that is primarily addressed to the author’s colleagues in professional practice. But Nimmer writes with such clarity, grace and depth of feeling that she reaches far beyond both her generation and her profession and speaks powerfully to readers of all ages and backgrounds."— Jonathan Kirsch, Jewish Journal