Revitalizing Roles of Older Adult Citizens Successful Stories of Project History Alive
Ageing International 38(2): 137-148
ISSN/ISBN: 0163-5158 DOI: 10.1007/s12126-012-9163-2
The speed of population ageing in Taiwan is among the fastest in the world. However, traditional values constrain older adults social role within fixed stereotypes like dependence, weakness, stubbornness, and an inability to learn. This study applies life course theory and role theory to investigate whether older adults can successfully play new social roles on stage as well as in their natural life context. Qualitative research methods are used, based on focus group interviews with key informants and organizational documents of the History Alive project. show that though the stage roles may be very different from their natural social roles, through repeated rehearsal and guided practice, older adults learned to play the expected new roles. Through interaction with school children and the student theater crew who invited the older adults to participate, History Alive participants shared their experiences and enjoyed themselves in a natural environment. The experience of older adults and youth getting to know one another through in-person social interaction removed stereotypes on both sides. Existing older adult stereotypes are no longer appropriate and must be replaced with new and real roles. However, in order to do so, older adults need long-term supportive social structures, social networks, study resources, good courses, and professional teachers. Learning stands out as an important core concept from this analysis. With longer average life expectancy, individuals and society have to learn how to develop new and diverse older adult roles. More investment is required to expand the program to non-metropolitan or rural areas.