Care for and Wellbeing among Older Migrants Study Conducted by Leyden Academy in the Netherlands

Nina Conkova and Jolanda Lindenberg are members of ENIEC who work at Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing. There they study the care and wellbeing of older adults with a migration background living in the Netherlands. Themes include becoming older in the Netherlands and perceptions of a ‘good’ old age, loneliness, and culturally-sensitive care.

written by Nina Conkova

A recent project we are working on deals with loneliness. Loneliness is common amongst older adults with a migration background, especially amongst those born in Turkey and Morocco (El Fakiri & Bouwman-Notenboom, 2016; Fokkema et al., 2016). Unlike prior research that tries to explain differences between migrants and non-migrants, the heart of Leyden Academy’s research lies in understanding why, despite their similar socio-economic and living situation, Turkish older Dutch are on average more lonely than Moroccan older Dutch. To understand this, we have conducted interviews with older people, welfare workers and volunteers. We are currently performing the analysis, and first results show that differences in expectations from social relationships, especially children, play an important role. There seems to be a clash between traditional, familial norms and the modern context prevailing in the Netherlands.

The knowledge gained will be used in the initiative ‘Together Against Loneliness’. ‘Together Against Loneliness’ is a collaboration between Leyden Academy and To Leyden Academy it is important to give back to the people we work with through, for example, free conferences, lectures and activities like digital skill courses. The development of Together Against Loneliness is another example of such activities.

During the previous months of the corona-crisis, Leyden Academy has also collected a large number of narratives about the experiences of the imposed restrictions among older adults with a migration background. Those can be read on our online platform Wij en Corona and in our article ‘The impact of COVID-19 virus on the daily life of Moroccan older adults’ (both available only in Dutch). The interviews include older migrants from many different backgrounds. This is because Leyden Academy wants to recognize the large diversity between and within migrant groups, including level of education, socio-economic status, language skills and reasons for migration, not just in the narratives but in all their research.

If you are interested in learning more about Leyden academy and their different projects, you an visit (website) or reach out to (contact details)