My educational background includes a BHSc and MSc in Health Promotion. My great passion is in gaining knowledge and insight from the stories of people in everyday life. Giving voice to people through narrative is something I believe provides value and understanding to the local culture. During my master’s study, I examined social connectedness and social engagement among immigrant older adults in Canada using narrative.
I am currently a first-year PhD student in the Health and Aging field at Western University. My research interests are in understanding the role of space and place in shaping, supporting and enabling occupational engagement and identity among Muslim immigrants and refugees living in Canada.
Examining and Understanding Social Connectedness and Social Engagement Among Immigrant Older Adults in Canada
Canada’s current population is living longer and well into later life than previous generations. In fact, the number of older adults is expected to double over the next twenty years. Following these trends, there is also an increasing number of older adults who are immigrants or who experienced international migration throughout their life course. Older adults are a heterogeneous group in Canada, which in turn affects the ways they build social connections and engage with others to support their health and well-being. This ageing demographic faces many complex challenges, and with its exponential growth there is a critical need to explore immigrant older adults’ experiences of ageing and to deepen our understanding of how they make sense of their lives through social connections. The objective of this study was to understand what it means to be an ageing, Muslim Lebanese immigrant in Canada by exploring their experiences of social connectedness and social engagement. Constructivist narrative inquiry was used to gain direct insight into the diverse lived experiences of two men and two women who came to Canada during the 1960s. Participants engaged in two in-depth narrative interviews in which they storied their experiences of connecting with others now and over time. ‘Past shaping present experiences’ and the importance of ‘finding place’ were two key themes that emerged from the four narrative accounts. The four stories provided rich understanding of the quality and quantity of their social ties and how culture, religion, ageing, family and immigration experiences developed throughout their life course and shaped their social connections and engagement during old age.