Meanings Created in Co-occupation: Construction of a Late-Life Couple's Photo Story

F.A. van Nes, T.A. Abma, H. Johnson, D.J.H. Deeg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Co-occupation refers to activities that require the participation of two or more people. While knowledge about co-occupation is expanding, few empirical studies have sought to advance the understanding of co-occupation in late life. The current study used interview data from one couple who participated in a longitudinal 2-year qualitative study among community-dwelling older couples plus photographs taken of them engaged in one of their most valued co-occupations: going for a walk together. The couple selected photographs, discussed the meanings they attributed to them and created a photo story. The photo selection and interview transcripts were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The findings consist of the couple's photo story and four themes that represent the meanings of this co-occupation: (1) Together but also individual; (2) It has always been like that; (3) Experiencing freedom and (4) Being eager to come across new things. The findings have implications for understanding the concept of co-occupation by bringing the importance of personalised meanings in co-occupation to the fore and by suggesting the importance of continuity of meanings of co-occupation for maintaining both individual and couple identities. Maintaining meaningful co-occupation might thereby contribute to health and well-being in late life. © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-357
JournalJournal of Occupational Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Cite this