Older adults’ social capital and generative activity in rural Ireland


Abstract


For ageing adults, rural areas present challenges to social and psychological well-being that are qualitatively different from those encountered in urban and suburban areas. Because of its importance to well-being, we explored the ways in which older adults in rural Ireland operate on and experience their social environment. Qualitative interviews were conducted with a sample (n = 10) of active older adults living in a sparsely populated, rural, and geographically isolated area of Ireland. Transcripts were thematically analyzed to gain insight into the ways these older adults reciprocally build informal social capital and engage in generative activity. Findings challenge commonplace notions of rural life as socially isolating and lonely for older adults and suggest that these older adults enact valuable roles in their rural community that are important to social and psychological well-being


Keywords: older adults, rural life, social capital, generativity, well-being

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