Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Religion & Culture / Religious Studies


Martin Luther University College

First Advisor

Kristine Lund

Advisor Role



This community based qualitative study examined the psychosocial and spiritual lives of 10 mature women (age 50 and older) who were at risk of becoming homeless, in other words, the hidden homeless. A narrative inquiry research design was employed to explore the lived experiences of these women. Voluntary participants were recruited through Life*Spin, a community based non profit organization that works primarily with low income families and individuals in London, Ontario. The Executive Director of Life*Spin circulated the recruitment flyers and handbills throughout her networks of social agencies. Individual interviews were arranged with participants who met the inclusion categories of being 50 or older and possessing at least two risk factors for becoming homeless. Using a strengths based theoretical framework throughout the data collection and analysis this study addressed the primary research question “What sustains the psychosocial and/or spiritual lives of mature women at risk of homelessness, as revealed in their stories of lived experience?” A narrative analysis generated ten life stories which were further examined through a thematic analysis. Themes of relationships, identity, meaning and spirituality were analyzed for their multiple sub themes. In addition to augmenting the current minimal research available for older women at risk of homelessness, this study found that these hidden homeless women remained socially connected through relationships and through meaningful activities and pursuits. Volunteering was particularly meaningful for many. The women were resilient and deeply spiritual, articulating a variety of beliefs and engaging in a number of spiritual practices such as gratitude, prayer and meditation.

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