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No 36 - 2020

Family, Aging, Region and Social Innovation
Directed by Majella Simard, Marco Alberio, Gérard-François Dumont

Building Capacity and Community to Improve the Quality of Life of Seniors: In Defiance of Aging
Majella Simard, Marco Alberio, Gérard-François Dumont

Research Framework: The aging of the population, unprecedented in human history, is a complex reality of the 21st century. This complexity is rooted not only in social and biological, but also in quantitative phenomena. Population aging is in the strict sense a structural effect, an increase in the proportion of the elderly in a given population, while the increase in aged persons is an effect of flux, which quantifies the increase in the number of seniors, those 65 years of age or older (Dumont, 2018a). Although its four main causes (increased life expectancy, decreased number of births, migration, demographic changes) are unanimously accepted by researchers; the manifestations, consequences and responses to aging are far from homogeneous (Breton et Temporal, 2019; Blanchet, 2013; Dumont, 2006; Simard, 2010). Indeed, the consequences of aging differ from one region to another, forcing us to understand population issues in targeted and specific ways, socially, economically and geopolitically (Dumont, 2016a, 2018b; Saillant, 2016; Gucher, 2012; Hodge, 2008). All of society’s institutions are affected by the challenges of an aging population: policies, employment, work, health, family, social security, regional management and development, and even democratic functioning. These diverse issues influence both seniors’ quality of life (Rican et al., 2013) and collaborative and regional governance.

Objectives: To identify the main issues and challenges associated with population aging in improving the social inclusion and quality of life of seniors. These issues and challenges relate to seniors’ income, accessibility of and proximity to local services, equipment and infrastructure, elder care and workforce planning.

Methodology: This article draws on the different contributions in this thematic issue and on the expertise of the three authors. In addition, based on a literature review, we advocate a content analysis, which will be combined with empirical data found mainly, but not exclusively, in various Statistics Canada documents.

Results: Most of these issues and challenges originate at the grassroots level, local or regional. However, their implementation requires energetic top-down action, as local and regional leaders, despite their good intentions, do not have all of the required tools and means to address them.

Conclusions: A regional policy on aging must be implemented that considers the local and regional characteristics of the environment concerned and the needs expressed by seniors and their families. Thus, environments must be created that are conducive to improving the quality of life and vitality of both the elderly and those around them. In addition, cross-functional gerontological actions must be initiated that involve partnering with both endogenous and exogenous stakeholders, and that consider the regional diversity of aging. The objective is to ensure that people remain active in society as they age – a prerequisite for preserving their health.

Contribution: From an academic viewpoint, our presentation, like that of other authors in this issue, is based on three closely interrelated endogenous models. These are capacity building and empowerment of stakeholders, collaborative governance, and progressive local development. Although these different models are effective channels for stimulating local initiatives, and in particular social innovations that bring about social change, they do not address the multiple challenges associated with active and healthy aging, which require cross-functional interventions rolled out at the regional level.


Retirement of the agricultural community: individual, family and social issues
Lyson Marcoux, Maxime Hébert

Research Framework: Quebec agriculture is still characterized by family farms that are usually transferred from generation to generation. Considering that the Quebec agricultural lifestyle generally interweaves the “individual”, “family” and “entrepreneurial” spheres, that many farmers are expected to sell their business in the next few years and that this transition raises many questions and challenges, factors influencing adaptation to this new reality deserve to be studied.

Objectives: The purpose of this study is to better understand farmers’ current experiences with the transfer or sale of their business to their children or a third party from a psychological angle linked to the systemic approach.

Methodology: Nine semi-structured interviews were conducted with farmers (6 men and 3 women, mean 59 years-old), who have withdrawn from their company (between 1 month and 10 years).

Results: This study sheds light on the issues and challenges inherent to the agricultural community during the working life and after the transfer or sale of the business. Resilience is evident in all participants. They usually remain professionally active, which is inconsistent with traditional retirement models.

Conclusions: Considering that the majority of retirees in the sample continue to get involved during and after the transfer of their business, the reasons that motivate them as well as the psychological and family issues that arise from this deserve to be deepened.

Contribution: This study draws a psychological portrait of this transition in Quebec (Canada). Considering the importance reported by the participants to remain active and socially engaged, social innovations are suggested in order to promote the adaptation to retirement of farmers who cannot continue to work in the field.


The Experience and Mitigation of Material Hardships among Canadian Older Adults. A Comparative Analysis with Other Age Groups
Maude Pugliese, Anne-Marie Séguin, Paul Fortier

Research Framework : In a waning welfare state context, older adults’ support needs are often unmet through public services. This insight calls for research on alternative strategies mobilized by older adults to mitigate their vulnerabilities.

Objectives : This article focuses on material hardships, defined as difficulties covering basic consumption needs. It explores the prevalence of those issues and the various coping strategies among older adults in comparison to patterns observed in younger age groups. We also attend to differences across region types, ranging from metropolitan centers to rural areas.

Methodology : Data are from the General Social Survey (Statistics Canada, 2011). Regression analyses compare the odds of experiencing material hardships and of employing several coping strategies to overcome this difficulty across age and regional categories.

Results : Older adults exhibit a lower risk of experiencing material hardships compared to younger groups. When living through material hardships, they are less likely to identify financial support from close social ties as a coping strategy and more likely to report alternative ones than younger persons. Financial support from social networks is also less likely outside of metropolitan areas as compared to within them.

Conclusions : Older adults are at a lower risk of material hardships, but when facing them they deploy a different set of coping strategies compared to younger groups, reflecting divergences in constraints and available resources across age groups.

Contribution : The literature on aging populations has thus far paid little attention to material hardships and economic vulnerability among older adults, focusing instead on their health-related difficulties. This study helps to fill in this gap. We also contribute to research on kin- and friend-based networks of support by stressing that, during moments of need, receiving monetary support is less common among older adults than in younger age groups.


The Policy of Supporting Carers in France: An Unfinished Articulation with the Community
Dominique Argoud

Research Framework: The evolution of public policy in support of informal caregivers and the role played by associations in France

Objectives: This article aims to understand how the growing government’s involvement in helping caregivers translates into the institutionalization of local initiatives.

Methodology: The article is based on a socio-historical approach to the policy of informal caregivers since the 1980s. Using public policy documents, but also the results of associative actions, it is a question of tracing the interactions between the public and community sectors.

Results: In few years, the government has been heavily involved in the development of an active policy towards caregivers, notably through a refocusing of its medico-social policy. But in reality, this policy is based on a limited register of action which does not support the long-term setting up of locally implemented schemes.

Conclusions: Paradoxically, the government growing intervention in recognizing the role of caregivers does not, as in the past, result in the institutionalization of pioneering local innovations. Since these innovations a more preventive and cross-cutting approach than a medico-social approach, they struggle to benefit from sustainable funding.

Contribution: The analysis of a public policy cannot be limited to a top-down approach. Indeed, a bottom-up approach is complementary because it is the interactions between these two levels that condition reality.


Aging at home in the diversity of Montréal’s neighborhoods. An opportunity for innovation in urban planning?
Sébastien Lord, Athanasios Boutas, Chiara Benetti, Paula Negron-Poblete

Research Framework: The Age-Friendly Municipalities approach calls on Quebec municipalities to reflect on facilities and services that would allow their population to age inclusively and actively. The physical and functional attributes of the territory have a significant impact on the positive experience of aging in place. However, changes in the social mix of a neighborhood can add to these dimensions and impact the residential elders’ experience.

Objectives: This article aims to explore the experience of aging in place in the context of strong demographic changes brought about by past and present immigration. It questions how immigration can change the dynamics of aging in place and lead to forms of innovation to be considered in the management of urban diversity.

Methodology: A theoretical framework borrowed from environmental gerontology is used to analyze the interaction between seniors and the transformations of their living environment. A case study is proposed through focus groups conducted in 3 neighborhoods of the Montréal agglomeration marked by aging and immigration (Saint-Léonard, Cartierville, and Parc-Extension).

Results: Aging in place in one’s community is not a linear and stable experience. Population changes can lead to difficult residential experiences when the physical and functional configuration is not adapted to aging (Saint-Léonard), but also to positive experiences when it is more favourable (Cartierville, Parc-Extension). Structural demographic changes show the elders’ resilience in the face of a changing residential environment (Cartierville, Parc-Extension), as do the limits of their adaptation (Parc-Extension, Saint-Léonard).

Conclusions: Aging in place in the context of immigration show even more that elderly people are not a homogeneous group. The results call for a more complex examination of the residential environment at the neighborhood level, particularly the notion of aging in place.

Contributions: Neighborhoods can transform at a speed and in a dynamic where seniors from here and elsewhere can lose their grip. Theoretical models in environmental gerontology do not account for the dynamic nature of this scale of the home.


The Local Exchange and Trading Systems in Quebec’s Age-Friendly Cities Program : An Initiative Fostering the “Aging in Place”
François Racicot-Lanoue, Nicolas Goudreault, Fanny Larocque-Tourangeau, Suzanne Garon

Research Framework : Resulting from the population aging, the increase in the elders needs and the decrease in their functional autonomy caused by normal aging, the possibility for seniors of “Aging in Place” has been weakened. Despite these difficulties, the vast majority of seniors wish to live in their home for as long as possible. In light of these challenges, governmental initiatives such as the Age-Friendly Cities (AFC) program as well as other local services are insufficient. By linking these initiatives to Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS), it would represent a social innovation that could foster “Aging in Place”.

Objectives : To suggest an original conciliation between LETS and the AFC program that could foster “Aging in Place”.

Methodology : In regard to the collaboration between LETS and the AFC program, this article offers an innovative reflection which will explore the role of stakeholders and the impacts of this partnership on a micro-territory.

Results : A mapping on a micro-level of where people live could help respond more precisely to the needs of the population while involving more easily stakeholders in this process. The latter can support the activities of the LETS in different ways, including by taking part in the AFC program’s steering committee.

Conclusions : A partnership is possible between the AFC program’s steering committee and stakeholders from the LETS at a micro-level, which could support “Aging in Place”.

Contribution : While it fosters “Aging in Place”, the LETS could help reduce the social isolation of seniors, increase intergenerational relations and promote social inclusion with all the actors involved in these activities.


Anchoring between the Health and Social services network and municipalities in the Quebec’s Age-Friendly Municipality Initiative : An analysis based on a collaborative governance model
Nicolas Goudreault, Suzanne Garon, Anne Veil, Nancy Lévesque

Research Framework: The population of Quebec is ageing particularly fast, yet people over the age of 65 tend to receive less support than other age groups (Maltais, 2018). Older people form a group at higher risk of being socially isolated, which can lead to serious health problems (Holt-Lunstad et al., 2017). These problems require the creation of national programs to ensure their well-being such as the Age-Friendly Municipality Initiative (AFMI). However, the partnership between actors from municipalities and the Health and Social Services Network (HSSN) is flawed and undermines the initiative’s success.

Objectives: Present obstacles that harm the intersectoral partnership in the AFMI between actors from municipalities and the HSSN, using the Ansell and Gash’s (2007) collaborative governance model, then reveal avenues of intervention based on certain experiments. Their analysis may help in the enhancement of intersectoral partnership and eventually help to meet the needs of seniors.

Methodology: To illustrate the partnership between actors from municipalities and the HSSN, a qualitative methodology was used via three methods: 1) a brief literature review; 2) research results from the Quebec’s Age-Friendly Cities Research Team; 3) interviews conducted with actors from the field (strategic, administrative and operational level).

Results: The interviews allowed the authors to identify obstacles in the intersectoral partnership in terms of starting conditions, based on the Ansell and Gash’s (2007) collaborative governance model. They also helped to identify certain experiments to guide new avenues of intervention and restore the intersectoral partnership.

Conclusion: The partnership between actors from municipalities and the HSSN must be enhanced to allow an appropriate response to older people’s needs in the AFM process.

Contribution: The analysis based on Ansell and Gash’s model identifies a weakness in the intersectoral partnership in the AFM process. The experiments proposed may inspire new promising practices on this subject.


« Self-Reconstruction » After a Separation
Pascal Duret, Muriel Augustini, Marine Luminet

Research Framework: The separation of couples is a common phenomenon today. Far from being a “formality”, this test can, however, have a lasting impact on people.

Objectives: The aim is to identify the different “self-reconstruction” paths (which do not always lead to a new couple) and the factors that favour them.

Methodology: We conducted interviews on 87 people who had lived at least ten years in a relationship and who had been separated for at least two years (to allow time for the “self-reconstruction” process to operate). We conducted three interviews per subject.

Results: The effects of separation differ whether the person left or is the one to leave. The “departing” person reveals that he could not have done otherwise. The “left” person appears to be a victim but, in order to not solely define himself as such, also takes a part of the responsibility.

We were able to identify many paths of “self-reconstruction” which do not all lead to the formation of a new relationship (couple). The relations with colleagues and friends can replace a new partner. Also, a period of solitude can lead to a renunciation of the emotional commitment to love.

Conclusions: Several factors have an impact on the objectives and methods of “self-reconstruction”: the age of the children and custody’s distribution, the ghost of the “ex” when it leads to the search for an identical partner or, on the contrary for the search of the opposite, and the reason for the separation (felt as more or less legitimate).

Contribution: This article provides a better understanding of how the bygone relationship plays in the various paths of “self-reconstruction”.


Parental support and non-support of trans youth: towards a nuanced understanding of forms of support and trans youth’s expectations
Annie Pullen Sansfaçon, Morgane A. Gelly, Maxime Faddoul, Edward Ou Jin Lee

Research Framework: This article focuses on the different levels of parental support that trans youth may experience or not.
Objectives: This article aims to define, from the perspective of trans youth, what parental support is, and describe how it affects their well-being.
Methodology: The results are drawn from qualitative analyses of semi-structured interviews with 54 young trans people between the ages of 15 and 25, living in the province of Quebec (Canada). The data collection and analysis processes followed a grounded theory approach and were guided by two concepts: recognition (Honneth) and intersectionality (Crenshaw).
Results: Our research reveals three levels of parental support: strong support, negative neutrality, and non-support or rejection. These can be conditional or non-conditional. The strong support that encourages gender expression promotes the well-being of young people and strengthens relationships with their parents. On the contrary, non-support or parental rejection affects negatively the youth well-being, can expose them to dangerous situations, and/or lead them to seek other forms of support. In addition, partial support, or negative neutrality, can also affect their well-being and self-esteem negatively.
Conclusion: Our article demonstrates that, in order to promote the well-being of young people, parental acceptance must be strong, and accompanied by actions that allow and encourage the expression of the gender of trans youth. It would be important to educate and support parents in the process of accepting their child.
Contribution: This article addresses the lack of qualitative data on parental support and its effects on trans youth, from the perspective of the youth themselves. Our study allows us to establish with more nuance how parental support or non-support fits into life trajectories and affects the well-being of young trans people.


The Perceived Influence of Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence on Youth’s Significant Relationships: A Temporal Analysis
Geneviève Lessard, Chantal Bourassa, Valérie Roy, Annie Dumont, Sophie M. Bisson, Pamela Alvarez-Lizotte

Research Framework: This article examines the evolution of relationships identified as significant by young adults who were exposed to intimate partner violence in childhood or adolescence.

Objectives: The study attempted to identify the people who had an important influence on the young people’s life course, to examine how the relationships with these significant people evolved, and to determine the extent to which exposure to intimate partner violence influenced these relationships.

Methodology: This is a qualitative study based on life course theory. Semi-structured interviews, accompanied by a life-course calendar, were conducted with 45 persons from 18 to 25 years old.

Results: Exposure to intimate partner violence had a greater impact on the relationships with the parents, although in different ways which depended on whether it was the parent who perpetrated or who was subjected to the violence. The relationships with other significant people (friends, siblings, extended family, etc.) tended to be more stable over time and were generally supportive and fluctuated less in the presence of intimate partner violence. Dating relationships sometimes led to a revictimization but also represented occasions to rebuild healthier and more equal relationships.

Conclusions: This study contributes to our understanding of the significant relationships of young people who have been exposed to intimate partner violence. The temporal analysis perspective adopted here helped to identify some of the shortcomings in previous studies and to propose avenues for future research.

Contribution: This study suggests certain actions to improve aid provided for youths and those close to them. The aim is to take advantage of the relationships that they consider significant in their various life trajectories, namely family, friends, intimate partner, school, and work.