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Using data from the first and second waves of the Survey of Midlife Development in the United States – MIDUS1 1995–1996 and MIDUS2 2004–2006, this paper examines the relationship between the extent of time and money volunteering among people aged 55 or more years at baseline and those of the same age nine years later. Following an analysis of the changes and stability in volunteering status, the paper examines the relationships between change or stability in volunteering and various socio-demographic attributes of the respondents and measures of their human capital, cultural capital and social capital. A majority of older volunteers of time and/or money were repeat volunteers, and the extent of volunteering at the start of the studied period was one of the most significant predictors of the extent of volunteering nine years later. The level of education was a consistent predictor of the extent of both time and money volunteering and of new engagement and stability in volunteering. Social network size, or social connectedness, represented by the number of various meetings attended, was a significant predictor not only of the hours of time volunteering, but also of new engagement and stability in both time and money volunteering. A high degree of religious identification also appeared to be a motivation for money volunteering and to affect the value of donations. The paper concludes by discussing the implications of the findings for the recruitment and retention of volunteers.
Recent economic development and socio-cultural changes have made it increasingly difficult for Chinese families to provide eldercare. Consequently, institutional care has been strongly promoted to meet older adults' long-term care needs. Although it has been estimated that China needs more beds to meet such needs, unfilled beds have been reported nationwide. One reason for the low occupancy may be a lack of willingness among older adults to live in long-term care institutions. Based on a national survey of 20,255 older adults, this study examined the extent of willingness among older Chinese to live in eldercare institutions, and it was found that in urban and rural areas, only 20 and 17 per cent of older adults, respectively, were willing to do so. Using an integrated theoretical model and logistic regression analyses, this study shows that gender, perceived family harmony, perceived filial piety, socio-cultural beliefs and practices about raising children and eldercare, knowledge and opinion about eldercare institutions, and self-assessed economic status were associated with willingness to live in eldercare institutions for both urban and rural older adults, while other predictors of willingness had different effects. The paper concludes with a discussion of the substantive, theoretical and policy implications for long-term care in China.
This experimental study aimed to analyse the effects of an aerobic activity intervention delivered by specially trained instructors to a sample of Italian older people living in a residential care facility. We assessed intervention effects on general health perception, perception that one's health represents a limitation for moderate and heavy physical activity, and positive and negative self-perception. The 36-item Short Form Health Survey Questionnaire (SF-36) was administered at pre-test and post-test to a sample of 22 older people (ten in the control group and 12 in the intervention group) of both genders with an average age of 80.6 years. The findings showed that: (a) the perception that one's health can limit moderate and heavy physical activity decreased significantly in the older people belonging to the intervention group between pre- and post-test, while it increased in the control group; (b) positive self-perception was found to be stable in the intervention group, while it decreased in the control group; and (c) there was no interaction between group and time with respect to both general health perception and negative self-perception. The exercise programme seemed to have a particularly positive effect on older people's beliefs about their ability to master successfully the activities of daily living such as walking and moving objects.
This study has explored how family members of care recipients define and sustain claims of mistreatment in old-age care. Twenty-one informants were recruited from an association of relatives of care recipients in Sweden. Using argumentation analysis, four warrants about mistreatment were identified from the qualitative interview data: they referred to physical harm, psychological harm, social-care deficiencies and identity subversion. The first three categories are similar to those recognised in previous research on elder mistreatment, but the fourth, which is described in detail in the article, is less familiar: elder mistreatment as the violation of an older person's identity. The family members backed their claims about staff members' violation of a care recipient's persona or identity by using arguments that drew on their unique knowledge of the care recipient's appearance, daily routines and preferred activities. They also described their attempts to protect the dignity and identity of a care recipient, their fears of abuse, and actual cases of conflict and retribution by care staff. They consistently positioned themselves as guardians of identity through their claims of mistreatment. The study provides important knowledge about family members' moral view of elder mistreatment, which may enhance the understanding of conflicts between formal care providers and family members.
The purpose of this study was to explore musical taste patterns in old age. Having musical tastes, defined as individual preferences for certain musical genres, has been theorised as being a relational tool, something that can be used to negotiate social situations and interpersonal exchanges with others. Taste not only helps to make sense out of the endless array of products available on the cultural menu, but is also through consumption and display a way of signalling group membership, social location, identity and self. These concepts are important throughout the lifecourse, yet relatively unexplored in later life. What are the taste patterns of older adults and how do they compare to the musical preferences of other age groups? To address these questions we analysed data from the United States national Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA), a repeated cross-sectional survey, for the years 1982, 1992 and 2002. In each year, musical tastes displayed a positive relationship with age up to 55 years of age. The results indicate that across the three survey years, at older ages there was a negative relationship between tastes and age. We offer explanations for these results using theories from the sociology of culture and social gerontology.
The purpose of this study was to conduct a descriptive analysis of multiple dimensions of religious belief and practice among older people in Japan with data from a nationwide sample. Six dimensions were evaluated: religious affiliation, involvement in formal religious organisations, private religious practices, the functions of prayer, belief in punishment by supernatural forces, and beliefs about the afterlife. In addition to describing these dimensions for the sample as a whole, tests were performed to see if they varied by age, sex, marital status, education and for those living in rural or urban areas. The findings suggest that even though older people in Japan are not highly involved in formal religious institutions, they engage frequently in private religious practices, and that while many older people in Japan do not endorse some religious beliefs (e.g. about the quality of the afterlife), there is strong adherence to others (e.g. beliefs about punishment by supernatural forces). It was found that older women are more deeply involved in religion than older men, and that levels of religious involvement appear to be higher in rural than in urban areas. Less pronounced differences were found with respect to age, but compared to the ‘young-old’, the ‘oldest-old’ aged 75 or more years were more deeply involved in those aspects of religion that take place outside formal institutions.
This article explores recent progress in theory, research and practical applications of reminiscence. It first describes the evidence for reminiscence as a naturally occurring process, and discusses the different functions of reminiscence and their relationships with mental health and lifespan processes. Three basic types of reminiscence that relate to mental health are specified: conversations about autobiographical memories and the use of personal recollections to teach and inform others have social functions; positive functions for the self include the integration of memories into identity, recollections of past problem-solving behaviours, and the use of memories to prepare for one's own death; negative functions for the self are the use of past memories to reduce boredom, to revive bitterness, or to maintain intimacy with deceased persons. It is proposed that in interventions the three types are addressed differently: simple reminiscence stimulates social reminiscence and bonding and promotes positive feelings; life review uses the positive functions to enhance personal wellbeing; and life-review therapy seeks to reduce the negative uses and thereby alleviate symptoms of mental illness. Studies of the effectiveness of interventions have provided some evidence that interventions are effective in relation to their goals. The review closes with recommended directions for future reminiscence research.