Dr. Christine Milligan
Social isolation, loneliness and stressful social ties are associated with poor physical and mental health including depression, suicide and dementia. This can be of particular concern for lone-dwelling older men who often find it harder to make friends in later life relative to older women. Supportive social ties and the creation of therapeutic and inclusionary spaces that meet the needs of older people can be important for enhancing their quality of life and wellbeing. Community-based social groups, however, are often dominated by older women, and as such fail to meet the needs of older men. This paper discusses one attempt to address this issue through the 'Men in Sheds' initiative, an innovative pilot programme developed by Age UK. Drawing on empirical research from three Sheds across the UK, it discusses older men's experiences of the Shed interventions, the impact on their sense of self, identity and wellbeing and assesses the extent to which such gender-based activity might provide a therapeutic landscape for lonely and socially isolated older men.
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