‘If anything happens, no-one knows I’m here’
: Older Women’s Experiences of Being Alone: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Student thesis: PsychD


Research shows that very little is understood about the experience of being alone as an older woman, despite many government and charitable organisations providing funding and provisions to alleviate ‘aloneness’. This study explores the experiences of being alone for six older British women living alone in the United Kingdom (UK), who express that aloneness is a familiar feeling for them. The transcripts from semi-structured interviews were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Three superordinate themes emerged: Being Home Alone, Being- in-the-world; Alone and Making Aloneness Acceptable. The findings indicate that being alone and the feeling of being alone (aloneness) occurred sometimes in synchrony but were not mutually exclusive, and it was the latter which provoked more painful feelings. These experiences were underpinned by social and existential concerns which resulted in participants’ feeling disconnected from the world around them, as they struggled to maintain their position in the lives of others. However, participants’ found conscious and unconscious ways to mitigate against potentially devastating aloneness. It is proposed that the research will aid in improving the services offered to older adults, and recommendations for future research are made.
Date of Award11 Jan 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorRosemary Rizq (Director of Studies) & Rachel Darnley-Smith (Co-Supervisor)

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