Empowerment of socially isolated older persons

Conference arranged and funded by Fonden Ensomme Gamles Værn in collaboration with Danish Society of Gerontology (DGS)


Inequality is growing in Denmark – and more and more people become socially excluded from the benefits of society. Being socially excluded means not having the option to take part in social relations and activities together with the majority of the population and a higher risk of living with poverty, chronic diseases and loneliness. 

Older persons who are socially isolated live different lives. Some have been marginalised throughout their life, while others become isolated later in life. The conference aims at elucidating conditions for older persons with few financial and social resources, homeless and other persons who live on the edge of society. How do they carry on in their everyday life, what wishes do they have for a better life? Do they need help from society – and how can this be offered?  

The conference will present knowledge from qualitative studies and experience among socially isolated older persons in Rotterdam, The Netherlands and Copenhagen.

Friday April 20, 2018 from 10.30-14.30.

Fonden Ensomme Gamles Værn, Fondenes Hus, Otto Mønsteds Gade 5, 3rd floor.

10.30 Welcome and introduction
Christine E. Swane, Director, Fonden Ensomme Gamles Værn (moderator)

10.45 Empowerment of vulnerable older persons – research and social work in Rotterdam
Professor Anja Machielse, University of Humanistic Studies, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Many socially isolated older adults have no need for interventions that aim at enhanced social participation. Their social skills are rather inadequate and they see few possibilities of changing their situation. However, they develop habits and rituals to meet their social needs. This presentation offers insight into the strategies that they use to deal with their situation and the implications for adequate interventions.

12.00 Lunch

12.45 Homeless older people – societal changes and the call for a new focus
Social psychiatrist Preben Brandt, MD, Dr.med., founder and chairman of project OUTSIDE
For the past 40 years I have worked with and studied homeless people of all ages. Chronological age is a poor marker of ageing when it comes to homeless people – and the concept of homelessness related to time is diffuse. How long have you been homeless to become ‘a homeless’? Are you old when you are mentally and physically worn out? What role does social, addictive and health conditions play as causes in both homelessness and ageing? Exclusion, poverty and loneliness will be discussed as highly relevant factors.

13.05 Everyday life among unconventional older city people results from an ethnographic study
Postdoc Jon Dag Rasmussen, MA Educational Anthropology, PhD, Danish School of Education, Aarhus University
Some older people living alone move quietly and transparently through the city landscape. They leave their small apartments in the morning to circulate through paths and places populated by significant humans, animals and material objects. The presentation provides insights into everyday life conditions and patterns among unnoticed and unconventional older city dwellers.

14.00 General discussion

14.20 Closing remarks