About this Research Topic
Already in ancient Greece, thinkers have been contemplating over the question of whether human life has ultimate meaning, and what that meaning could possibly be. The question is elaborated further in, for example, existential philosophy and phenomenology. Only much more recently, the issue of meaning has become a topic of keen interest in mainstream psychology. Current psychological research on meaning in life finds important foundations in the work of existential-humanistic psychotherapists and psychologists such as Viktor Frankl, Abraham Maslow, and Irvin Yalom. It also develops within positive psychology, framed within, for example, Carol Ryff’s model on psychological well-being, or Aaron Antonovksy’s theory on salutogenesis. Accumulating empirical evidence in both fields shows the benevolent role of meaning in life for optimal human functioning and in dealing with challenges and stressors in life.
A life stage often characterized by challenges, losses, and changes in late-life. Decreased mobility, declining physical and cognitive abilities, bereavement of a spouse, and an increased need for care might compromise the feelings of a meaningful life. Available studies, however, also point out that the experience of meaning in life remains a vital factor for well-being in advanced age. In order to push the field further, more insight is needed in the complex phenomenon of meaningfulness in life. Further knowledge is warranted on (at least) 3 levels:
• How is meaningfulness experienced in late life? Is this similar to other life stages and similar among the different sub-populations in late life (e.g., community-residing healthy older adults, frail older adults, nursing home residents, oldest old, etc)?
• How does meaningfulness in life plays a role in the psychological and physical functioning of older adults? What are the underlying mechanisms?
• Meaningfulness is often described as a multidimensional experience. How are the distinct dimensions related to (distinct aspects of) human functioning and which of those dimensions are more easily compromised in (sub-parts of) this life stage?
In this Research Topic, we solicit contributions that explicitly address the phenomenon of meaning in life during late adulthood (65+). We aim for conceptual clarifications and empirical insights that will push the scientific fields of, for example, existential psychology, positive psychology, gerontology, and elderly care nursing further and will impact on policy and care. We aim for novel approaches and fresh ideas that stimulate interdisciplinary and inter-professional collaborations. Although we are interested in fundamental and basic science contributions in addition to applied contributions, we invite basic science scholars to reflect on the potential impact of their findings on the practice and work floor.
For this article collection, we welcome the following article types: Brief Research Report, Case Report, Clinical Trial, Community Case Study, Mini Review, Original Research, Registered Report, Systematic Review, Conceptual Analysis.
Keywords: meaning in life, late life, older adults, nursing homes, purpose in life, existential concerns, seniors
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.