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Social engagement and healthy ageing in disadvantaged communities

Roger Beech (Reader in Health Services Research based at the Research Institute for Primary Care and Health Sciences, Keele University, Keele, UK)
Michael Murray (Professor of Applied Social and Health Psychology based at the Centre for Psychological Research, Keele University, Keele, UK)

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults

ISSN: 1471-7794

Article publication date: 8 March 2013

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Abstract

Purpose

Social engagement is important for healthy ageing but may be challenging for residents of disadvantaged urban communities. For older residents of one such community, this project aimed to examine levels of social engagement and its link with wellbeing and community attachment.

Design/methodology/approach

The project introduced activities to promote social engagement and used a survey to assess participants' wider involvement in local activities and their feelings of wellbeing and community attachment.

Findings

Sixty five people completed the survey: most lived alone (over 69 per cent) but had contact at least monthly with family, friends and neighbours (over 70 per cent) and made regular use of local amenities (over 79 per cent). Only 34.7 per cent were classified as “not lonely” and participants' mean health related quality of life score was lower than the national average. However, over 65 per cent of participants rated their generic quality of life as good or better and over 67 per cent had a positive sense of community attachment. Statistically significant associations were identified between a person's feelings of loneliness and generic quality of life and their level of contact with relatives, neighbours and friends and their sense of community attachment.

Originality/value

Results confirm the need for strategies to promote the social engagement of older people. The link between community attachment and wellbeing also demonstrates that community wide strategies are required. The importance of maintaining the “corner shop” was evident.

Keywords

Citation

Beech, R. and Murray, M. (2013), "Social engagement and healthy ageing in disadvantaged communities", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 12-24. https://doi.org/10.1108/14717791311311076

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited