Feeling Excluded From Society? It Might Be Society’s Fault.


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Seniors Can Benefit From More Sports Programs: Photo By Kenneth Allen

New research looking at social isolation and social patterns has shown that the elderly and shift workers are most likely to feel excluded from society. Dr. Matt Barnes, while working on a study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, or ESRC, examined the way society is shaped and how people engage in social activities. The study, entitled “Understanding participatory time for groups at risk of social exclusion“, used the concepts of sports, the arts, social networking, and volunteering as the definition of social inclusion.

Elderly Spend Eleven Hours Awake Alone

According to Dr. Barnes, the elderly were very likely to suffer from social exclusion. A key factor in Barnes’ research was the lack of mobility and transportation available to the elderly. The study showed that the elderly spent an average of 11 hours a day alone, excluding hours sleeping. The elderly were engaged with friends and family during their social interaction periods. The amount of time spent engaging in social activity per day was significantly less than younger adults and children.

Seniors were less likely to engage in sports or the arts than younger adults. Volunteerism was also present, but decreased in the elderly. Spending time with friends and family were the main sources of social networking. According to the study, part of the problem in social engagement is the limited availability of programs geared towards seniors, where the seniors can participate. In many cases, senior programs focus on medical care, which not all seniors are in need of obtaining.

Shift Workers At A Disadvantage

For workers who work unusual hours, social engagement is difficult to obtain. Unusual hours, as defined in the study, are any work schedule different from a traditional Monday to Friday, 8AM to 7PM, shift. The number of individuals working nights and weekends has increased as companies conduct business around the globe, and shoppers continue to enjoy the convenience of shopping in the early morning or late night.

Most social activities are arranged around the traditional working schedule. The events take place in the evening and on the weekends, times when shift workers may be unable to attend. There are no programs currently designed to allow shift workers to engage in social activities with large numbers of people.

Night shift workers often miss social activities because of work schedules: Photo by Jocelyn Augustino

Shift workers also spend more time during their leisure running errands. With their limited availability to stores and services, shift workers spend more time darting from location to location, attempting to cram a week’s worth of errands into a much smaller time. This can further reduce the level of social engagement even through the daily routine.
Click to Read Page Two: Social Support for the Elderly and Shiftworkers

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