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What does it mean to age well with bipolar disorder?: A qualitative study using photo elicitation

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E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>25/09/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date25/09/23
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Abstract Objectives The objective of this study is to explore what ageing well means to older adults with bipolar disorder. Methods Older adults with bipolar disorder took photographs of aspects of their lives that they felt represented ageing well. They then completed audio-recorded photo elicitation interviews to explore what it meant to age well with bipolar disorder in detail. Data were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. Results Seventeen participants met the criteria for bipolar disorder I or II. The analysis resulted in four key themes to ageing well with bipolar disorder: (1) Lifelong learning ? referring to how participants accumulated a wealth of knowledge about bipolar disorder and used this to maintain stability in later life; (2) Finding where you belong ? relating to how participants prioritised finding new communities, utilised family support and refined their support networks over time to age well; (3) Recognising your value and worth ? which involved participants using their strengths and experiences to support others; and (4) Continuity of support ? older adults with bipolar disorder highlighted the benefits of continuous support that allowed them to be actively involved in their treatment. Conclusions Participants ageing with bipolar disorder identified unique challenges indicating that services require adaptation to meet their needs and support them to age well. Findings suggested that services should provide continuous care that allows this group to actively engage with their treatment, build upon their strengths, and develop meaningful connections with professionals and peers. This approach may enhance support for older adults with bipolar disorder and reduce the inequalities they experience.