Coping strategies used by the elderly regarding aging and death: an integrative review

Abstract Objective: to identify and synthesize studies that approach the coping strategies used by the elderly to deal with aging and death. Method: an integrative review was performed in seven databases with the following descriptors: psychological adaptation, the elderly, death and aging. Results: 73 articles were identified. After applying the inclusion and exclusion criteria, six articles that identified multiple losses experienced by the elderly and included coping strategies were selected and analyzed. The main losses were: loss of health; physical capacity and functionality; loss in quality of emotional relationships; death of loved ones; reduced social integration; fewer material goods; financial loss; lower cognitive resources; lower perceived mastery; loss of feeling useful; reduction in subjective well-being and quality of life. We also identified the following coping strategies used to deal with losses related to aging and finitude: anticipated grieving; wish to die; isolation; submission; negotiation; acceptance; accommodation; support seeking; living in the moment; seeking spiritual comfort. Conclusion: the elderly experience aging and finitude with coping strategies that can generate both unfavorable and favorable health outcomes. In this context, some coped through anticipated mourning and the desire to die, while others looked for spiritual comfort, social support and acceptance.