MacKean_whole_thesis.pdf (2.29 MB)
Ageing well: An inquiry into older people's experiences of community-based organisations
thesisposted on 2023-05-26, 04:04 authored by MacKean, RM
This study investigates an under-researched area of older people's activities: the characteristics of the community-based organisations to which older people belong, the activities they pursue there, and the factors which encourage or deter their participation. It is now generally accepted that participation in mental, physical and social activities helps older people maintain their health and wellbeing. This study explores in depth ways in which participation in the leisure activities offered by self-help organisations benefit older people, by satisfying their desire to remain active, independent and involved. By giving older people a voice‚ÄövÑvp in describing their experiences, the research seeks to discover their motivations for participation, what benefits they saw as deriving from participation, and how participation affected their self-assessed quality of life. A phenomenological and modified Grounded Theory approach was adopted to elicit the lived experience of the participants and explore their reflections on their experiences. Twenty-five participants aged 65 to 82 (14 women and l1 men) were purposively selected from seven different community-based organisations with a range of size, structure and membership, and offering different activities. Through semi-structured interviews conducted by a researcher of similar age and experience, participants were able to voice their opinions freely without the constraint of ageism. Interview transcriptions provided rich descriptions; respondents' voices have been captured and used extensively in the study, allowing in-depth exploration of their attitudes and feelings. Interview data were coded and analysed using thematic analysis (Strauss & Corbin 1990; Charmaz, 2006). Using as a framework for analysis of respondents' experiences Toffler's (1981) concepts of community, structure and meaning‚ÄövÑvp, the study suggests that participation in community-based organisations helps older people maintain their wellbeing, independence and self-esteem and a sense of purpose and identity. Participation gives older people opportunities to make new friends, to use their knowledge and experience, to act reciprocally, and to continue learning in an informal, supportive setting. The study revealed that self-assessed wellbeing is affected less by people's age and state of health than by their social support networks, and that community-based organisations have an important role in providing the mental, physical and social activities that benefit older people. Groups run by older people for their peers were found to be particularly successful in providing older people with opportunities to share experiences and understandings, to cope with loss, and to observe and learn coping strategies for successful ageing.
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