A live community growing together: Communal occupation of a senior center welcoming Spanish-speaking elders
The percentage of Latinx immigrants over the age of 65 in the United States is expected to more than double within the next 30 years. These elders face particular health and occupational disparities emerging from a transaction of individual and sociocultural factors that warrants attention by both service providers and researchers. This study employed an ethnographic approach including interviews, observations, document review, and group mapping activities. It sought to explore a county senior center as it evolves toward greater inclusion of Spanish-speaking members who are increasingly agentic in their community occupations despite facing initial constraints. John Dewey’s philosophy is employed alongside critical theoretical perspectives to illuminate the juxtaposition of individual vulnerability and agency interwoven with structural elements. The communal growth experienced by the senior center and the Spanish-speaking elders is characterized by social relationships that transform, and are transformed by, shared occupation. For occupational scientists, the results offer an expanded understanding of communal occupation and its influence on community change, in this case focused on a marginalized population integrating into dominant cultural spaces and practices.
Lavalley, R; Womack, JL; Bailliard, A
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