The Definition and Categories of Positive Solitude: Older and Younger Adults’ Perspectives on Spending Time by Themselves

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Abstract

This paper attempts to develop a better understanding of the positive solitude (PS) phenomenon and its meaning among age groups, as well as formulate a unanimous definition for PS. A qualitative study (N = 124) was conducted. Participants were gerontology professionals and laypeople. Interviews were conducted and content was analyzed in order to understand the essence of PS, themes, and subthemes. Two major categories were found: the essence and the components of the PS experience. Seven PS content categories and three meta-themes were raised: (1) PS is a matter of choice; (2) PS is satisfying and enjoyable; and (3) PS is meaningful. Differences in PS categories between younger and older adults were found. The meta-themes served as the foundation of a new definition. PS has different attributes in old age. A unified definition of PS may help distinguishing between PS and other forms of being alone. Recognizing and facilitating the PS experience among older adults might be beneficial and contribute to their quality of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)943-962
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Aging and Human Development
Volume93
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.

Keywords

  • loneliness
  • meaningful activity
  • positive solitude
  • social isolation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Aging

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