This blog post offers an overview of an event in Oxfordshire to mark International Day of Older Persons, where Jordan Gorenberg presented research findings from a scoping review on social capital and loneliness.
International Day of Older Persons, officially designated by the United Nations and observed annually on October 1st, is an occasion for the examination of the challenges and contributions of older individuals to society and communities. It celebrates the wisdom and life experiences of older individuals on a global scale. This day serves as a platform for increasing awareness of the unique concerns that older individuals may encounter, alongside promoting the importance of their well-being and social inclusion.
On 28 September 2023, an event to celebrate International Day of Older Persons was held at Cherwell Collective, based in Kidlington, Oxfordshire. It offered a range of sessions for attendees to participate in, including a session focused on engaging with nature, a hands-on session related to planting for the upcoming winter season, an exercise session infused with creative dance elements, a demonstration on how to prepare nutritious meals on a budget and a session involving seated exercise. Local service providers were available to offer information and advice related to services and resources for older individuals. The event allowed for knowledge sharing and a communal meal was provided to foster a sense of community and well-being for older individuals attending.
This event played a pivotal role in facilitating networking and community building among the older individuals in attendance. It served as a valuable platform for strengthening social bonds and fostering a sense of belonging through the activities provided. The presence of local service providers and organisations offering information and advice also promoted interaction and engagement. Attendees had the chance to explore the various resources available to them in the community and, in doing so, they often struck up conversations with one another, sharing their experiences and knowledge.
At the event, I displayed some information about a scoping review I was involved in conducting around the topic of community support to develop social capital. Several people approached me, intrigued by the infographic that summarised the review’s findings (see below). In particular, they were curious about what social capital was and its relationship to loneliness. After responding to their enquiries, they shared personal experiences of loneliness and the challenges its presents. These enquiries underlined the significance of the research, as it became evident that many people were grappling with the intricacies of how bonds and networks within their communities related to their experience of loneliness.
Reflections on the event
Events like the one held at Cherwell Collective are important for several reasons. They bring together older individuals, promoting social inclusion and emphasizing the value of this demographic. They counteract the isolation that some older individuals may feel by creating opportunities for them to participate actively in their communities. The topics discussed and activities offered during these events often centre on the specific concerns and needs of older individuals. By addressing issues like social isolation, healthcare, and financial well-being, they bring attention to these challenges and provide avenues for seeking solutions. In doing so, these events can reinforce a sense of community and interconnectedness, ultimately contributing to a more compassionate and inclusive society where people of all ages are valued and respected.
The review referred to in this blog was funded by the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Oxford and Thames Valley. Views expressed in this blog are those of the author; they are not necessarily those of the funder or their host institution.
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