The Staple Hill blog – May
Michael and I recently visited Staple Hill to further define and contextualise our study. We visited during a Friday morning/lunchtime. What stood out most to us, as we walked the neighbourhood and stopped in a café, was just how many older people were out walking in the ward at that time of day. We encountered many older people, often accompanied by a younger person. An additional cohort of older people were engaging with an organised health walk around Staple Hill’s Page Park. Census data supports our impression that Staple Hill has a significant older population: in 2011, 10.2% of Staple Hill residents were 75 or older, compared to 7.7% nationally.
This set us thinking about older people and health and happiness. There are contrasting ideas around the happiness of older people. Some suggest a graph of our happiness follows a U shape in our life: we are happier when young or old, than we are in the middle years. However, old age also provides challenges to wellbeing and happiness, including health problems, reduced mobility, and social isolation. In light of these issues, a focus is developing in the Staple Hill case study on the happiness of its older residents and how this is influenced by interactions between Staple Hill as a place, social support networks and health.
We are seeking to engage with older people in the area, through workshops and walking interviews, where we can learn what the key issues are in Staple Hill and what we can suggest might improve Staple Hill for older people. We will also be looking at definitions of happiness. It is a term that we use frequently in everyday life, but is used less in academic literature (for example in the literature surrounding older people). The first workshop will include a wide range of people who have links to, and interest in, the Staple Hill area, hopefully bringing together a vibrant diversity of voices.