عنوان مقاله [English]
Introduction: Due to social changes related to modernization, such as advances in health care technology, economic development, and advances in education, the position of the elderly in modern society has changed, and these changes have created problems and challenges for the elderly, the most important of which is marginalization and feelings of loneliness. Many seniors describe aging as a time of loneliness and fear it as an unpleasant experience. Although this feeling can be exacerbated by issues such as retirement, declining social relationships, increasing illness, and the death of a loved one, it is consistently overlooked. The purpose of this study is to analyze older people’s lived experience of loneliness from a sociological perspective and to examine how they cope with and adapt to loneliness.
Methods: This article examines the lived experiences of older people whose children have left home. For this purpose, in-depth interviews were conducted with 20 elderly men and women in Tehran and the collected data were analyzed using thematic analysis. The research area was some parks in Tehran because the interviewees could be easily reached there. The criterion for ending the interviews was data saturation.
Findings: The results of this study obtained by content analysis indicate 3 main themes (perception of loneliness, causes of loneliness, and compensation of loneliness) and 11 subthemes (fateful perception, satisfactory perception, conflicting perception, conflicting perception, marriage of children and death of spouse, distance one place, parenting styles, restoration of social relations, communication with God, and participation in some social and exchange-based activities.
Conclusions: The results of this study show that most study participants, whether they have fewer or more children, have experienced feelings of loneliness, but their perceptions and experiences of loneliness vary by social and cultural characteristics. For example, older people who are in a good financial position use bartering or some type of bargaining. That is, they provide services from their parents and receive support from their children. Older people who have a good education spend their time participating in certain activities, such as volunteering in NGOs. Also, the relationship with God in order to eliminate loneliness has proved that although it seems to be different from the solutions of modern sciences, it can definitely be the best and most desirable solution in the context of religious and Islamic culture. The results also show that both parents (men and women) face the problem of loneliness and with the death of their spouse, the marriage of their children may increase this feeling in them, but not all of them are passive and take active measures to overcome their loneliness. Finally, the results of this study indicate that the loneliness of the elderly and its elimination requires the adoption of supportive strategies by family members, health care providers, and policymakers.