Nada Nasir is a 4th year PhD student in the field of Health and Aging, in the department of Health and Rehabilitation Science at Western University. She is currently conducting an ethnographic study to enhance the understanding of how aging Muslim immigrants enact diverse occupations and negotiate identities in new places, specifically in the context of London, Ontario.
Understanding occupation, place and identity among aging Muslim immigrants living in Canada
Nada Nasir, Western University, Canada
Achieving health, social inclusion, and continued engagement through meaningful activities while aging can be challenged by the processes of migration. Immigration during adulthood or later life may cause a loss and/or change in social status, relationships, roles and responsibilities. Such losses may lead to depression, isolation and can negatively affect quality of life. Additionally, immigrants often leave behind deeply familiar occupations, which are meaningful activities individuals engage in to fulfil their own expectations and interests, such as gardening or volunteering, with resulting negative implications for well-being. However, many immigrants build and maintain new relationships, occupations and places, to gain a sense of belonging in the community.
The purpose of this ethnographic study is to enhance the understanding of how aging Muslim immigrants enact diverse occupations and negotiate identities in places across their life course, specifically in the context of London, Ontario. The study will further address the following questions: How do aging Muslim immigrants negotiate their older adult Muslim identities through everyday occupations in place and how do contextual features such as community supports and resources facilitate or hinder occupational engagement and negotiation of identity in place for aging Muslim immigrants?
Part one of this study involved 10 Muslim immigrants, in four data collection sessions each: one narrative interview, one follow-up interview, one photo elicitation interview, and one mapping exercise. Part two involved in-depth semi-structured interviews with 3 community representatives from diverse organizations in the study context.
Data analysis has been an ongoing process involving 4 iterative stages: 1) reflexivity 2) transcription and core summaries 3) holistic-content approach 4) coding, categorizing and themes.
A preliminary analysis of the data from this study has revealed how participants negotiated multiple complex transitions to participate in meaningful occupations and express their identity comfortably and safely within and across new contexts. Participants learned how systems work in their new community through multiple avenues such as: social relationships, community membership, work, education, meaningful activities, and social environment, which informed their aging experience.
Added attention to the intersections of migration, occupation, place, identity and aging can inform deeper understanding of how everyday life is constructed and practiced among aging immigrants. Findings from this research study may allow researchers and community organizations to support the lives of aging immigrant’s through culturally tailored programs and services to address challenges they face and enhance their quality of life.