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Empowering older people in different contexts through social ties
Högskolan i Jönköping, Hälsohögskolan, Avd. för socialt arbete. Högskolan i Jönköping.
Högskolan i Jönköping, Hälsohögskolan, Avd. för socialt arbete Högskolan i Jönköping.
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division of Social Work and Social Pedagogy.
2019 (English)In: Creating empowerment in communities: Theory and practice from an international perspective / [ed] [ed] T. Anme, New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2019Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

A better understanding of insecure living circumstances and the relational world of older people has the potential to contribute to the development of care planning and delivery. This chapter examines conditions of precarity and empowering social ties of older people in community sites. The study used ethnographic methods to understand the lived experiences of 20 older people that was predominantly female and African American in Baton Rouge in the U.S. State of Louisiana. The ethnographic fieldwork for this investigation was conducted from 2013 to 2018 through participant-observations and open-ended interviews in three community sites in Baton Rouge. The field data was analyzed using social network and empowerment frameworks. The social ties of older people in Louisiana were compared with a previous study on social ties of older people in two Swedish senior centers. The analysis focuses self-, peer- and community empowerment levels and how they protect against precarity of older people. The findings from studying different community sites of older people in Louisiana demonstrate that the key social support ties that provided a buffer against precarity of older people were close friendships made in community sites and spiritual faith ties to God. Conditions of precarity and sources of stress of older people in Louisiana were constant threats of discontinuity of home-based health care services, prescription and medication access, not affording health care and other social problems of poverty, cognitive impairment and declining health. In Louisiana, self- and peer empowerment of older people were strong, but community empowerment through home-based health care services were not enough to prevent and reduce precarity of older people. Toward the background that Sweden can be considered to have a comprehensive social welfare system it is easier to see examples of empowerment of older people on all three levels. Self- and community empowerment were the strongest when studying examples of community sites for older people. In the Swedish study, the social network of older people was dominated by thin ties between senior peers. Community sites are needed as completent to ageing at home. In Louisiana, strong (thick) ties of older people were dominant. For the older people in Louisiana to receive consistent home-based health care services was not a given but required an ongoing active and joint effort by older people, family caregivers and friends. Policy implications of this study are that ongoing care support by family caregivers, friends and home-based health care services and medication access without gaps are needed to reduce and protect against precarity of older people. Self-empowerment should be supported by not only peer but also community empowerment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2019.
Keywords [en]
older people, precarity, social ties, social network, empowerment, friendship, ethnography, senior citizen center
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-13530ISBN: 9781536149425 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-13530DiVA, id: diva2:1298004
Available from: 2019-03-21 Created: 2019-03-21 Last updated: 2019-03-21

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Svensson, Lars A.

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