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In collaboration with Age Concern UK, older people were invited to participate in action learning groups to explore how they adapt to change. Themes for discussion were initially identified using a nominal focus method. Discussions identified actual and desired methods of coping with changes in later life. A series of weekly meetings with three cohorts of urban, rural and sheltered accommodation participants with an average age of 81 years revealed that they were concerned with having to cope with and adapt to a wide range of experiences. These included the loss of sharing and reduced sociability, reduced mobility, bereavement, physical changes, having to move house and/or location, having to retire, and having to deal with outside agencies. In order to cope with these experiences, participants engaged in a range of activities that centered on aspects of communication and social networking. Participants talked to each other socially and informally, exchanging information and advice. When able, they also participated in more structured but non-specific social events during which time they also had the opportunity to support each other. Participants suggested that there was a role for statutory and nonstatutory bodies and professions such as mental health and community adult nursing, occupational therapy and social work to provide more formal social networking and information exchange opportunities.
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