Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 24 Issue 1 (January/February 2014), Pages 1-73

Community Participation of Older Adults with Disabilities (pages 50-62)

ABSTRACT

Contemporary discourses on ageing promote active participation as an ideal framework from which to encourage and support older people's health, independence and life satisfaction. But is such a vision of participation meaningful and/or accessible to all older adults? This paper explores how people ageing with disabilities understand the notion of social participation, juxtaposing their accounts with key trends found in ageing policy. Insights from individual interviews and a collective writing project conducted with older adults in Quebec who were living with lifelong disabilities (mobility, vision or hearing) reveal the tensions that exist between policy guidelines and participant narratives. Results highlight three crucial conditions with regard to the community participation of people ageing with disabilities: self‐determination, creating an inclusive environment and identity integration. Together, these themes reveal that ageing policies on participation should be revisited in order to improve opportunities for meaningful involvement. Our discussion suggests the need to widen the definition of participation so that it can be used to validate a variety of life options, guarantee structural and cultural access to participative settings and offer social spaces capable of supporting evolving identities, lived experiences and the collective circumstances of ageing with disabilities. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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