Graduation Date


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy

Program Chair

Julia Wilbarger, PhD, OTR/L

Faculty Advisor

Susan Morris, PhD, OTR/L


Spousal loss has been frequently identified as a life stressor that can greatly impede one’s ability to age at home. The purpose of this study is to identify the occupational changes that commonly result after this event and their impacts on one’s ability to age in place. This study utilized a qualitative phenomenological research design. Eight participants were recruited from an educational program for older adults and were interviewed using a semi-structured interview format. Researchers transcribed and coded all interviews to determine emergent themes. Two major categories of themes were found: occupational and intrinsic responses. The areas of occupation that were most commonly identified include: social participation, caregiving, activities of daily living, financial and household management, meal preparation, and leisure. Intrinsic responses were identified as autonomy, intrapersonal transition, and filling in time. Occupational and intrinsic responses occur transactionally and influence each other. Older adults may need to effectively address changes to both of these categories to facilitate successful aging in place after partner loss.