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Social patterns of older men : a study of the social activity patterns and needs of the unattached aged male in the Strathcona area of Vancouver 1965-1966 Bethune, Donald Blaine


The needs of older people are becoming of greater concern as medical advances and the possibilities of a longer life-span increase our population in the years beyond sixty-five. This study is concerned with the social patterns of older men in an area of Vancouver that is known to have a high proportion of unattached men of a low-income level, namely, Strathcona. The daily living patterns of the men, their social contacts and family relationships were explored in an attempt to understand how they used their free time. As there is a high percentage of Chinese men living in the area a comparison of some of the similarities and some of the differences in social patterns between Chinese men and White men is indicated in the study. The research method involved an interview survey with 103 subjects chosen from a random sampling of men listed as retired in the November 1965 federal voting lists. The survey may be useful as a guide in social welfare planning in the Vancouver area and in particular with regard to new housing which may be erected under urban renewal projects in the Strathcona community. The study points to the social isolation of the men of this area. Family relationships and social ties that are a part of most older people's lives are noticeably lacking for the men of our study. Early immigration patterns and environmental conditions in the first decades of this century are helpful in understanding how the social relationships for the men have become as restricted. It should be noted that the Chinese men have compensated, to some extent for the lack of family ties here, through communal living arrangements and strong group associations. The knowledge gained from the study contributes some insight and understanding of the social living patterns of the men of the survey area. It has been a way of discovering some of the social needs that these people have been unable to verbalise themselves. The study also illustrates the complex nature of the problem of aging.

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