Loneliness among Elderly People: Can Food and Meals Change this Situation?
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionHansen, K.V. (2020) Loneliness among Elderly People: Can Food and Meals Change this Situation? Journal of Population Ageing, 13 (3), pp. 1-11. 10.1007/s12062-020-09298-z
In a relationship, it is natural that one person lives longer than the other, leading to many challenges, including the possibility of loneliness. This article focuses on how food and meals can help reduce loneliness among the elderly. There are many reasons for loneliness or emptiness, including being a widow or a widower, illness, and poverty. As the number of elderly people is greatly increasing in all welfare states, meals are an important function that should be maintained throughout life. This study used CurroCus® group interviews, or fast focus groups. Nine CurroCus® groups were conducted, lasting for 37–56 min (average = 45 min). Altogether, 76 persons participated, ranging in age from 60 to 87 years; participants were predominantly female (> 80%). The collected empirical data were recorded, transcribed, and entered into NVivo 11.0. Interviews were analysed using a grounded theory approach. The main findings of this article fall into two main categories: togetherness and life action. Based on the interpretation of respondents’ answers, elderly people make both conscious and unconscious choices that help reduce loneliness. They also gather around food and meals to experience more togetherness. In future research, loneliness strategies carried out unknowingly should be investigated more closely. In addition, elderly participants should self-report on meal activities throughout the day.