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Project Description

Our exploratory case study addresses the following objectives: 1) We will identify and explore common interpretations of violence and victimization in different situations involving older adults; 2) We will critically explore the broader social and cultural forms of knowledge that inform interpretations of violence and victimization; 3) We will identify the emotional features within accounts of violence, as well as emotional responses to violence; and 4) We will examine how differing social and physical environments (differing relationships; home and institutional settings) shape these interpretations and responses. Drawing on micro-sociological theories of violence, as well as the methodological tenets of interpretive inquiry, our preliminary research endeavour entails an exploratory case study in Winnipeg which integrates three forms of qualitative data from three types of participants - older adults living in community-based congregate living facilities (in-person interviews); spouses of older adults experiencing cognitive impairment (diary methods); and paid service workers (telephone interviews). Findings will enhance the understanding of how people interpret meanings and emotions related to interpersonal violence and victimization involving older adults, and how these interpretations vary by context and circumstance. 

This project will also address a relative gap in knowledge about violence and older adults in contrast to other age groups; in particular, a gap in inductive, constructivist research focused on the complexities of social and emotional dynamics and subjective interpretations. We will also critically explore, and deepen, social understandings of violence, facilitate open discussion within about violence and victimization related to older adults, and inform organizational responses to prevent violent escalation. Findings will be applicable to a variety of stakeholders and the public, who desire a greater insight into the dynamics and interactional complexities of violence, and who strive to understand and prevent the escalation of interpersonal violence. This includes organizations and institutions servicing older adults (non-profit, for-profit, governmental) and their families (caregiver associations), as well as networks of researchers, practitioners and decision makers (e.g., age-friendly communities and elder abuse networks). Mobilized actively, the findings will benefit older adults, their families, and the front-line workers whose support is crucial to their well-being.