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Ageing well: An inquiry into older people’s experiences of community-based organisations


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MacKean, R 2010 , 'Ageing well: An inquiry into older people’s experiences of community-based organisations', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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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 selfhelp
organisations benefit older people, by satisfying their desire to remain active,
independent and involved. By giving older people a “voice” 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”, 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

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:MacKean, R
Keywords: older people, participation,learning,peer group,community-based organisation, positive ageing
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