Social engagement and resilience have been increasingly recognised as critically important concepts in understanding ageing as well as promoting successful ageing. Research in these areas, both local and international, are however still in beginning stages with much clarity needed across definitions, measures as well as applications. CARE aims to elucidate a clearer understanding of both these concepts for the local contexts, as well as more broadly through its collaborative research with other countries. Specifically, we are keen to explore how these concepts are defined, as well as the meanings that these concepts hold for older persons.
Active social engagement has been shown to be associated with better health and health outcomes across numerous studies. Definitions, measures and terminologies that have been used in these studies, however, have been varied and not wholly consistent. Some studies on social engagement have considered social participation, that is, the involvement in social activities; other studies have examined social networks, that is, the number of contacts with friends and relatives and membership of groups and organisations; and yet others have focused on social support, that is, the level of instrumental and emotional help available to an individual. CARE’s own work will attempt to elucidate the relevance of these different dimensions for older Singaporeans.
Resilience is widely cited as the potential or ability to “bounce back” from a disruptive event and it is used to refer to the capacity and resources for recovering from adverse events. In the context of individuals - from an illness, accident, loss of job, bereavement, or other disruptive life event; and in the context of communities or economies: from natural disasters, pandemics, or economic shocks. Understanding the factors that impact on resilience is highly relevant in informing the design of interventions for and with older persons.