Culture and activity in aging

Mountain, Gail and Tetley, Josie (2007). Culture and activity in aging. In: Kandel, Isack; Schofield, Patricia and Merrick, Joav eds. Aging and Disability: Research and Clinical Perspectives. Victoria, BC: International Academic Press.



The cumulative effects of illness and disability in older age can lead to individuals being less able to make positive decisions about involvement in activities for pleasure and socialization. This lowered self-efficacy can in turn lead to erosion of confidence and ultimately to social exclusion. Older tenants in sheltered housing schemes are at particular risk of isolation and exclusion as the move to age-specific housing is usually triggered by a sudden or gradual decline in ability and/or personal circumstances. In conjunction with this, assumptions that social networks naturally occur in communal retirement communities and that people will individually or collectively arrange activities can lead to peoples' aspirations for meaningful activities in later life being overlooked. This problem is further compounded as housing staff find their time is taken up building maintenance and ensuring that tenants receive basic housing and environmental services. This chapter reports on the findings from a needs analysis that aimed to identify the activities that older tenants in a sheltered housing scheme had enjoyed during their lifetime, were no longer able to do but wanted to resume, and any new interests they were interested in pursuing. This is followed by a description of a one-year activity and culture program developed out of this needs analysis, underpinned by previous work conducted in Sweden.

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