Meaning in life has been redeemed crucial in older adulthood by both research and the experience of healthcare professionals. Especially in the context of life’s finity and end of life issues, sense of meaning has a significant impact to quality of life, subjective wellbeing and resilience.
Traditionally it has been argued, that this phenomenon is behind the turning to religion, religious social activities and religious meaning systems, which many older persons experience and exhibit.
However,exploring questions of meaning in the late modern societal context has highlighted that religion is not a preferred choice for many older adults. Instead, questions of meaning in transitions of later life are reflected and pondered in non-religious contexts. These contexts might involve spiritual, non-religious activities or social groups centered around personal growth.
This paper lays out the essential approaches and theoretical foundation needed for empirically examining this phenomenon, including the ways of measuring and approaching meaning in life. The paper also reports the results of a qualitative pilot study on a group of Finnish older adults (65-85 years old), taking part into a good life and wellbeing workshops on their free time.
The paper provides new insight into the generation and usage of meaning systems – the questions of shared meaning in non-religious but spiritual contexts – and thus can offer valuable outlook to approaching meaning in life of older adults, both in research and in practice.