Questioning the value of present life: The lived experience of older people who see no future for themselves

VE van den Berg, TW Thoelking, CJW Leget, ID Hartog, ML Zomers, JJM van Delden, EJ van Wijngaarden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: To describe the lived experience of older people who see no future for oneself in the context of aging and the possible development of a wish to die. Methods: Data were collected from 34 interviews with people of 55-92 years. A phenomenological hermeneutical analysis was performed using crafted stories as an analytical device. Results: Four intertwined constituents together with the essence of the phenomenon provide a layered description of what it means to see no future for oneself. In all constituents: 1) not sharing everyday life, 2) looking for new commitments, 3) facing present losses and future fears and 4) imagining not waking up in the morning, the essence losing zest for life seeped through their daily experiences. Conclusions: As their horizon of future possibilities is shrinking, older people in our study experience a loss of zest for life and start to questioning the value of their present lives. And although a certain languishing mood can be discovered, the phenomenon ‘seeing no future for oneself’ does not entail a wish to die.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2457-2465
Number of pages9
JournalAging & Mental Health
Issue number12
Early online date31 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2023


  • Aging
  • Everyday loneliness
  • Interviews
  • Older people
  • Phenomenological method
  • Seeing no future

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