Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Monograph

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Supervisor

Denise Connelly

Abstract

Social isolation and loneliness have a negative effect on the lives of older adults. Participation in regular physical activity may facilitate social connectedness to mitigate feelings of social isolation and loneliness. Current understanding of regular physical activity for social connection and health benefits in older adult residents of retirement communities is limited. This study aimed to address, ‘What are the stories of social connectedness of physically active older adults living in a retirement residence?’. Using a narrative methodology, and incorporating an occupational mapping tool, residents of a retirement community storied their experiences of regular physical activity. Thematic analysis revealed themes of ‘making it home’ and ‘purpose through activity’ as ways in which older adults adapted to their new home. The findings may inform retirement residences in providing opportunities through activity and social contacts to support older adults to adapt to their new home and develop feelings of social connectedness.

Summary for Lay Audience

In Canada, the older adult population is expected to increase rapidly until 2013, when all of the baby boomers will have reached 65 years of age (Statistics Canada, 2016). Approximately 2.6% of Canadian older adults are living in a retirement residence built specifically for older adults (Statistics Canada, 2015). Retirement residences allow older adult residents to live independently in an active social and leisure lifestyle (Roberts, 2014). However, loneliness and social isolation are still prevalent in these retirement residences (Sibley, Thompson & Edwardh, 2016; Statistics Canada, 2016). Loneliness and social isolation have a negative effect the lives of older adults (Gardiner, 2016; Holt-Lunstad, 2010; Statistics Canada, 2016; The Social Report, 2005; Keef, 2006). Having access to physical activity programming can play a role in enabling older adults to integrate an active lifestyle while also providing the opportunity to be socially connected (Barrat et al., 2006; Herbolsheimer, 2017; Roberts, 2014). However, the current understanding of regular physical activity for social connection and health benefits in older adult residents living within a retirement residence is limited. This study aimed to address, ‘What are the stories of social connectedness of physically active older adults living in a retirement residence?’. Through interviews and the use of a drawing tool, residents of a retirement residence told their experiences of regular physical activity, of which were storied to explain their social connectedness. Two themes were found in this story – ‘making it home’ and ‘purpose through activity’ as ways in which older adults adapted to their new home. The findings may inform retirement residences in providing opportunities through activity and social contacts to support older adults to adapt to their new home and develop feelings of social connectedness.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Available for download on Monday, August 31, 2020

Share

COinS