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Contextualizing and Assessing the Social Capital of Seniors Living in Congregate Housing

Valerie Haines, PhD, Department of Sociology, University of Calgary, Faculty of Social Sciences, Room 956, Calgary, AB T2N 4N1, Canada, 403-220-3216, haines@ucalgary.ca, Spencer Moore, PhD, Centre for Health and Policy Studies, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Dr. NW, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 4N1, Canada, Alan Shiell, PhD, Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Dr. NW, Calgary, AB T2N 4N1, Canada, Carrie Bon Bernard, MA, Mental Health Promotion, Calgary Health Region, 1509 Centre Street SW, PO Box 4016, Station C, Calgary, AB T2T 5T1, Canada, and Therese Riley, PhD, School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Level 5, 207 Bouverie St, Carlton, 3053, Australia.

Despite the increasing number of seniors living in congregate housing residences, there has been relatively little attention given to the role of housing contexts on the healthy and successful aging of seniors. To examine the influence of housing contexts on the healthy aging of seniors, our research contextualizesand assesses the social capital of seniors living in congregate housing. To develop context-specific measures of social capital, we integrated qualitative and quantitative methods through a three-phase research process. The first phase of the research involves the use of gender-specific focus groups with residents of housing facilities. The second phase involves the administration of a social network survey to assess 1) the structure of seniors inter-personal relations, 2) their access to socially-valued resources, and 3) individual health outcomes. The final phase involves the use of anomalous case methods in which we interview seniors to refine our description and explanation of the importance of social capital in healthy aging. We will describe the project's research design and process, data analysis methods, and discuss the project's implications for future research on the social contexts of healthy aging and for the design of senior housing health promotion interventions. With regard to the project's implications, we will be discussing how the research has progressed within the facilities, e.g., participation of seniors at each phase and barriers to participation, how our approach to social capital differs slightly from current approaches, and how health promotion interventions might be designed to improve congregate housing environments.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this presentation, the participant will be able to

Keywords: Underserved Populations, Housing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: Research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research- Institute on Aging
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Exploring the Social Environment of Older Adults

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA