60 + Participants including
4 Generations (Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, Generation Z) from
3+ Nationalities (UK, Japan, China, India)
We used experimental conversation through photos, memories exchange and journalling to learn about people’s experiences and gathered over 80 stories. We also explored the factors shaping connection, isolation, loneliness of Baby Boomers in old age. We traced back to their early age experiences to understand the extrinsic and intrinsic influencing factors that defined their trajectory into isolation of connection. The challenges were plentiful and layered. The more we uncovered the more challenging it became to find a key insight that we could work with and deliver value to the area.
At this point in the research we hypothesised to test through stories-
Can Self-Sufficiency lead to Isolation?
We found our hypothesis to be true while also realising the depth and importance of having autonomy for an older adult. We then looked at existing services in the space working towards isolation in old age. We found that there is a general lack of awareness regarding the programs, a communication gap with volunteers due to a limited understanding provided of the complexity of issues, cultural nuances and representations. The volunteer relationship also induces power dynamics and stigma as well as inconsistent activities and low sustainable engagement. Furthermore, lack of evaluation and effective generational understanding causes programs to be unsuccessful in the long term.
We realised that to make a difference and deliver an output, we had to look at the project not from the perspective of simply developing strategies to build connection, but rather developing strategies to decode the relation between self-sufficiency and connection. This helped us develop our own framework of striking the balance between the two.
- Self-Sufficiency and Autonomy is important for an individual to pursue his life purpose, goals, hopes and stay true to his/her identity.
- Increased self-sufficiency enabled by innovations (products, services, etc) have reduced dependencies on other people and therefore reduced inter-generational interaction.
- Self-Sufficiency is equated with a person's intelligence, ability to stay informed and make own decisions and judgements.
- Sense of Connection can mean different for different people. However, the key to establishing healthy connections between generations require Understandability, Reciprocity, Value Addition and Power Balance.
- Stigmatisation of dependence: Depending on innovations enabled people to perform daily tasks independently. Therefore, depending on innovations is considered safe while depending on other human beings is considered weak.
- Stigmatisation of pity: No older adult wants interactions born out of pity and obligation from younger generations making them further feel like a burden.
- Self-Sufficiency as protective behaviour: Being dependent on others requires one to be vulnerable and open to being disappointed. Learning to depend on someone is also a form of accepting influence because it requires letting go and yielding to the other person’s ideas and actions.
- Connections and Relationships: On the flip side being vulnerable builds stronger relationships by enabling each person involved to have a role to play through effective give and take.