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BACKGROUND: Although successful aging is most often defined by the absence of disease and disability, older adults consistently report aging successfully even in the presence of chronic illness and functional limitations. A more holistic way of looking at old age suggests transcendence may be an important missing criterion for successful aging.

AIM: Transcendence, a late life developmental process, appears to have a profound effect within the spiritual domain, but is an abstract, complex and unfamiliar concept. A clear understanding of the meaning of transcendence is necessary to explore the concept’s usefulness as a potential basis for future interventions to increase successful aging.

METHODS: Walker and Avant’s (2004) method of concept analysis was adapted to analyze literature from philosophy, theology, developmental psychology, sociology, psychiatry and nursing to gain a thorough understanding of transcendence.

RESULTS: Antecedents, attributes, referents and consequences of transcendence were identified then displayed in a conceptual model. A definition of transcendence in relation to successful aging was synthesized from the analysis.

CONCLUSION: The concept analysis suggested transcendence may provide a theoretical foundation for development of potentially cost-effective, efficacious interventions to foster a sense of meaning in life, well-being, and life satisfaction. The model under development may prove useful in planning potential interventions.

Original Publication Information

This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Holistic Nursing, volume 31, number 2, in 2013, following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at DOI: 10.1177/0898010112463492