Process of inner change in advanced age: a qualitative study of older adults in their early 90 s

Hiroko Komatsu, Hidehito Niimura, Kaori Yagasaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The number of nonagenarians is growing globally. The promotion of mental wellbeing is increasingly important. The aim of this study was to explore mental wellbeing and psychological experiences of older adults in their early 90 s who were living at home. Methods: We conducted a qualitative study using semi-structured face-to-face interviews with 20 older adults in their early 90 s. A thematic analysis, according to Braun and Clarke, was used to analyze data. Results: An inner process of older adults in their early 90 s was revealed; its three themes were the “reality of aging,” “seeking emptiness of the mind,” and “still moving on.” Older adults in this study experienced functional decline, regret, and loneliness. They were tired of life and nearly gave up. Emptying their minds helped them reset their attitudes and find a way to move on. After realizing that negative thinking did not help anything, they focused on what they could do and their daily routines. Perceived social usefulness validated participants’ self-worth. However, a few were consistently active without negative perceptions of aging. Conclusion: Understanding the psychological process and mental wellbeing in later life aids in the development of practical healthcare policies to assist the growing oldest-old population in cope with age-related challenges and improve their mental wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number945
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec


  • Geriatric care
  • Longevity
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Oldest old
  • Qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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