CARDI funded research sheds light on the social lives of older people
- Northern Ireland
- Republic of Ireland
A new report (Monday 14 April 2014) funded by the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI) finds that many older people enjoy good social connections. However, a substantial number are at risk of social exclusion. It also finds that a lack of information about social exclusion hinders the effectiveness of policies and programmes aimed to help those older people most in need.
The all-Ireland research led by Dr Kieran Walsh, National University of Ireland, Galway, attempted to measure social exclusion among older people by analysing official data.
The research found that although the vast majority of older people in Ireland, especially in Northern Ireland, had regular contact with their family and friends, one in six older people (15%) in the Republic of Ireland had little or no contact.
The majority of older people appear to get on well with their spouse, with over 93% of respondents in ROI and 97% in NI feeling they could rely on them. Men are more likely than women to say their spouse understands how they feel about things and that their spouse never lets them down.
However, those living alone and those living in urban areas have a greater tendency to feel they cannot rely on other family members if they have a serious problem than people who live with others or who live in rural areas.
The research reveals that older people contribute substantially to society through civic activities including voting and volunteering. Older people in ROI are more likely to vote, volunteer and provide care for relatives than those in NI. In addition older people in the ROI are more than twice as likely to attend films and cultural events as those in NI.
Lack of data
Social exclusion is a growing issue of concern and effective policies and interventions to combat it require a better understanding of the factors impacting on the lives of older people. The research found a particular lack of data available on issues relating to loneliness and social isolation in Ireland, North and South. Data, where it does exist, focuses on material resources rather than on the extent and impact of social exclusion on the lives of older people.
Dr Roger O’Sullivan, Director of CARDI, said, “This report highlights the important and complex subject of social exclusion. The research clearly indicates the need for a greater understanding of the factors that cause older people to be socially excluded. The findings will be of particular interest to those designing policies and delivering services that wish to target those older people most excluded in society.”
Contact: Nicola Donnelly, Communications Officer, CARDI E: firstname.lastname@example.org P: 0862762397.
This research was funded by the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI) and carried out by a research team led by Dr Kieran Walsh, Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, National University of Ireland, Galway.