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Living in the City: Exploring the everyday activities of older women residing in inner city neighbourhoods

  • Author / Creator
    Daum, Christine H
  • Older adults engage in activities to care for themselves, enjoy life, and contribute to society. Participation in activities is important for health, quality of life, and successful aging. Activities influence and are influenced by the environments in which they occur. Little is known about everyday activities within neighbourhood environments from an occupational therapy perspective. Yet, neighbourhoods become increasingly important with advancing age as older adults spend more time closer to home. There is also a need to consider the perspectives of older women. Hence, I conducted a qualitative study to explore the everyday activities of older women residing in inner city neighbourhoods. Interpretive Description guided this qualitative study. Twenty-eight in-depth home and go-along interviews were conducted with 11 women aged 70+ years and residing in two Edmonton inner city neighbourhoods. Interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Other data included 28 sets of interview notes and eight documents (e.g., newspaper articles and emails). Conventional content analysis guided data analysis. Trustworthiness strategies included prolonged engagement, verification for data accuracy, use of multiple data generation strategies and an audit trail, peer debrief, thick description, reflexive journaling, and an external audit. The concept neighbourhood embeddedness emerged from the findings. It describes the state of being enmeshed into a neighbourhood, which was observed in varying degrees among participants. Neighbourhood embeddedness contains three components: neighbourhood sage, neighbourhood connected, and activities as catalysts and bridges to neighbourhood. Neighbourhood sage describes the knowledge and know-how needed to participate in everyday activities in inner city neighbourhoods. Neighbourhood connected refers to ties to neighbourhood places and people, which may result in an emotional attachment to neighbourhoods. Everyday activities are catalysts and bridges to neighbourhood. They play an essential role in engaging older women in their neighbourhoods and ultimately becoming neighbourhood sage, connected, and embedded. Because neighbourhood embeddedness increases older women’s familiarity, comfort, and resources, it helps them to live in the city; that is, to engage in meaningful activities despite physical and social challenges present in the inner city. These findings have several implications. They reinforce that neighbourhoods matter in the lives of older women as they are sites for everyday activity. Even those activities that typically occur at home (e.g., cooking, home maintenance, reading) require older women to leave their homes and enter their neighbourhoods, especially those older women who live alone and who have limited support for day-to-day activities. As everyday activities have purposes beyond self-care, productivity, and leisure, occupational therapists could encourage older women to participate in everyday activities as a means of becoming neighbourhood sage, connected, and ultimately, neighbourhood embedded. Findings also illuminate the need to consider the uniqueness of each older woman and to look beyond the stereotypes of inner city neighbourhoods in evaluating the fit between older women and their neighbourhoods. A good fit between older women and their neighbourhoods is essential in facilitating choice and participation in meaningful activity.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2016-06
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R30863D4F
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Doctoral
  • Department
    • Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Specialization
    • Rehabilitation Science
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Mayan, Maria (Extension)
    • Liu, Lili (Occupational Therapy)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Keating, Norah (Human Ecology)
    • Hollis, Vivien (Occupational Therapy)
    • Scharf, Thomas (Institute of Health & Society and Institute of Ageing)
    • Duggleby, Wendy (Nursing)