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Place and wellbeing: shedding light on activity interventions for older men

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>01/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Ageing and Society
Issue number1
Volume35
Number of pages26
Pages (from-to)124-149
StatePublished
Early online date23/08/13
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In the UK, one in five of the population is an older man, many of whom live alone. Loneliness and social isolation is a growing issue for many of these older men, one that has been associated with elevated blood pressure, poor physical health, increased mortality and mental ill-health, including depression, suicide and dementia. Social isolation thus presents new challenges for the physical and mental wellbeing of older men. This is not unique to the UK. Yet whilst inclusionary social spaces and supportive social ties can be important for enhancing physical and mental wellbeing amongst older people, evidence suggests that lone-dwelling older men can experience greater difficulty in accessing effective social support, relative to older women. Understanding those spaces of communal activity that are likely to be successful in promoting health and wellbeing amongst older men is thus important if we are to improve their quality of life. In this paper, we draw on an evaluation of a 'Men in Sheds' intervention in the UK, to illustrate how everyday spaces within local communities can be designed to both promote and maintain the physical and mental wellbeing of older men. In doing so, we engage with the geographical concept of the therapeutic landscape offering new insights into how Sheds, as created therapeutic landscapes, may offer gendered spaces in which older men can perform their masculinity and which hold real potential for the maintenance of their health and wellbeing.