Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Nursing



Major Advisor

Dawn M. Weiler


Purpose: The purpose of this narrative study was to describe and provide an understanding of the unique cultural factors that are associated with successful aging in the elder Hispanic population.

Background: The number of aging Hispanic in Americans is on the rise. The Center for Disease Control recently released data showing the life expectancy for the Hispanic population is 80.6 years — a 2.5 year advantage over the non-Hispanic white population and 7.7 years over the non-Hispanic black population. With longer life spans resulting in an increased number of Hispanic older adults, we are presented with a difference that – as will be described below – has puzzled medical research and thus there is a need for more research into ways to assure quality of life and promote successful aging.

Methods: The research design used was narrative inquiry, as seen through the Story Theory lens, to explore the cultural significance of the Hispanic elders’ stories related to successful aging. Data was identified and analyzed using both inductive and deductive processes. Inductive factors from the narratives of Hispanic older adults participating in this study, as well as deduced factors from the successful aging literature, were identified. The etic (formalized knowledge arising from research and reported what is written in the literature about the Hispanic culture and successful aging) was compared with the emic (the stories from the Hispanic elders about life and aging), and was brought back full circle into the construction of a new etic (the conceptual model presented below) produced through analytic induction.

Results: A purposive sample of four participants (n=4) were recruited to be interviewed for this study. The elderly Hispanics’ stories underscored the importance of social support networks, in particular family (including peer and professional others), and faith communities. It is through the connections that these individuals have with family and faith that they are able to age successfully. A conceptual-network was developed through analytic induction; four interrelated concepts associated with what is needed to successfully age were derived. These concepts, activated by the participants’ faith, are: (a) the ability to find personal peace, (b) the ability to practice self-discipline, (c) the ability to accept things that you cannot control, and (d) the ability to see yourself as a valuable individual.

Implications: The findings from this study provide nurses with knowledge that they can use to promote culturally congruent successful aging. Culturally sensitive nurses can enhance the well-being and satisfaction of this population, through maintenance of the conceptual-network as a unit and allowing patients to decide what is most important for him or her. This is in line with the goal from Healthy People 2020 to assess how health status affects quality of life and how a positive outlook and satisfaction can bring a sense of well-being (United States Department of Health and Human Services [HHS], Healthy People 2020, 2010). As the aging Hispanic population increases, promoting health and successful aging will also become more important. Healthcare professionals can learn from the successful aging practices of the Hispanic elderly to promote successful aging.