Sexual needs and rights do not disappear just because older people live in long-term care facilities (for convenience, henceforth L-TCF). For instance, Bauer et al (2013) showed that most residents see themselves as sexual beings. In addition, most staff working in L-TCFs commonly report diverse sexual situations involving residents (Villar et al, 2019a). Despite the reported continuation of sexuality, the prevalence of sexual behaviours among older people living in L-TCFs is likely to be lower than for their counterparts living independently in their own homes. Probably for some older people living in L-TCFs, sex does not hold (or not any more) an important place in their life, and they simply do not miss it at all (Villar at al, 2014a). Unquestionably, individuals have the right not to be sexually active in later life, which should be equally supported as the right to continue with sexual relations. However, research in this field has also identified specific barriers that discourage or even prevent older people living in L-TCFs from expressing openly their sexual needs and maintaining their rights to a sexual/erotic life.
In this chapter, we discuss such barriers, paying special attention to the difficulties faced by specific social groups, such as people living with dementia (PLWD) and those identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans (for convenience, henceforth we will use the abbreviation LGBT). The chapter will also consider further research in this field of knowledge that could help improve sexual expression and help secure the sexual rights of older people living in L-TCFs.
Studies on older adults’ civic engagement have been dominated by a win-win narrative, which assumes that the activity is beneficial both for the individuals involved and for communities. However, civic engagement may also be a source of negative experiences. The aim of this study was to understand these experiences in greater depth through an analysis of older Spanish activists’ narratives of negative episodes of political participation. We also aimed to contribute to the methodological literature on narrative research by highlighting the strengths of analysing not just the content but also the structure of older people’s stories. Life story interviews were carried out with 40 members of Spanish political organisations aged between 65 and 86 years old. As part of the interview, they were invited to narrate a negative event related to their stories of political participation. Answers were analysed both for their content (using thematic analysis) and for their structure (using Christopher Booker’s plot typology). Participants recounted many negative experiences of political participation, which challenged the win-win master cultural narrative around civic engagement. These stories, which often reflected Booker’s plots of ‘tragedy’, ‘overcoming the monster’, ‘the quest’, and ‘redemption’, recorded political defeats, conflicts with other members in the organisation, feelings of loneliness associated with engagement, and undesired consequences for relatives and friends. The results highlight the importance of providing a more nuanced understanding of what it means to be politically engaged in later life. This understanding would integrate the positive aspects assumed by the master win-win narrative with others that clearly challenge its assumptions.
Research on later-life generativity has promoted a new view of older persons that, far from the traditional images of disability, dependence and frailty, recognises their capacities, and potential to continue growing, while underlining their participation and contributions to families, communities and society. The goal of this study was to carry out a scoping review on later-life generativity, the first one conducted on this topic as far as we know, to show how studies in this area have evolved, which aspects of generativity in later life have been studied, and the methodological and epistemological approaches that are dominant in this area of inquiry. Our scoping review shows that research into generativity in later life has grown steadily over the past 30 years, and particularly during the last decade. However, our results also show how such growing interest has focused on certain methodological approaches, epistemological frameworks and cultural contexts. We identify four critical gaps and leading-edge research questions that should be at the forefront of future research into generativity in later life, gaps that reflect biases in the existing literature identified in the study. These are classified as methodological, developmental, contextual and ‘dark-side’ gaps.
Older adults face particular risks of exclusion from social relationships (ESR) and are especially vulnerable to its consequences. However, research so far has been limited to specific dimensions, countries, and time points. In this paper, we examine the prevalence and micro- and macro-level predictors of ESR among older adults (60+) using two waves of data obtained four years apart across 14 European countries in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). We consider four ESR indicators (household composition, social networks, social opportunities, and loneliness) and link them to micro-level (age, gender, socioeconomic factors, health, and family responsibilities) and national macro-level factors (social expenditures, unmet health needs, individualism, social trust, and institutional trust). Findings reveal a northwest to southeast gradient, with the lowest rates of ESR in the stronger welfare states of Northwest Europe. The high rates of ESR in the southeast are especially pronounced among women. Predictably, higher age and fewer personal resources (socioeconomic factors and health) increase the risk of all ESR dimensions for both genders. Macro-level factors show significant associations with ESR beyond the effect of micro-level factors, suggesting that national policies and cultural and structural characteristics may play a role in fostering sociability and connectivity and, thus, reduce the risk of ESR in later life.
The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for information-seeking, social contact and leisure activities is increasing in adults and older people. However, little is known about adults and older people who are already actively using ICTs to write a blog. The aim of this paper is to describe the benefits adults and older people gain from having a blog. Twenty-three older adult bloggers (aged 60–83 years; most of them with college degrees and retired) from Spain who, at the time of the study had an active blog were interviewed. A thematic analysis identified four different benefits related to blogging: (1) a general sense of satisfaction from producing the blog; (2) relational benefits; (3) cognitive benefits; and (4) identity benefits. Results showed that adults and older people experienced a variety of benefits that broadens the distinction between personal and social benefits found in previous research. Blogging in later life challenges the traditional passive/consumer and online user experience view of adults and older people and seems to be a good example of proactive participation through websites.