Social Participation Considered as Meaningful in old age : the Perceptions of Senior Housing Residents in Finland
Sirén, A.-L., Seppänen, M., & von Bonsdorff, M. B. (2023). Social Participation Considered as Meaningful in old age : the Perceptions of Senior Housing Residents in Finland. Ageing International, Early online. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12126-023-09522-z
Published inAgeing International
© 2023 the Authors
As populations across the world age, there is a recognised need for promoting social participation in older adults. Previous studies related to social participation have addressed that interactions perceived as meaningful may improve quality of life in old age. However, what is less clear is the nature of such participation from the perspective of older adults, as the vast majority of studies have been quantitative. The present study aimed to explore what characterises social participation that contributes to a meaningful everyday life, from the viewpoint of independently living Finnish older adults. Thematic analysis was used as an interpretative method drawing on semi-structured in-depth interviews with six residents aged 82 to 97 years from one senior housing facility. The analysis showed that social participation perceived as meaningful involved caring reciprocal interactions with people they connected with; having the freedom to make autonomous decisions and influence matters that affected their own or others’ everyday life; and, on a more abstract level, feeling significant as a person. It furthermore fostered independence and companionship as well as reduced loneliness. To describe social participation that is perceived as meaningful from a theoretical perspective, we used Levasseur and colleagues’ (2010) taxonomy and found that such involvement creates a sense of connectedness, a sense of belonging and relates to the concepts of social integration, social networking and social engagement. This type of involvement is associated with enhanced quality of life and a more meaningful life, highlighting the importance of creating environments where older adults can socially connect. ...
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Additional information about fundingThis research was supported by a grant from the Jan Magnus Jansson Foundation. Open Access funding provided by University of Helsinki including Helsinki University Central Hospital.
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