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Connection and caring in social context

Feeling close to others and having a sense of belonging are very important for our health and wellbeing. 

As women grow older, the way we connect with our friends and community can change. When we retire or have fewer responsibilities for others, we can pick how and with whom we want to spend our free time.

Many of us choose to be with people and activities that make us happiest, and might leave behind those relationships that are less rewarding.

Illustration in connection in a social context

The Vital Conversations report on older women in the community says that being socially connected isn’t just about being active in the community. It’s about feeling like you truly belong. Being socially connected helps us in many ways, like having a safe and comfortable place to live, being financially secure, and able to use technology in our daily lives. 

As women grow older, especially after retirement, many of us also do more unpaid caring work for family and others. Historically, women have been thought of as natural caregivers. Even today, many – including women – still think women should care for others as part of their role, and that this is what being a ‘good’ woman means. Our society reinforces this idea in many ways that are often invisible to us but are widespread.

Because of these ideas, women are more likely to work part time or casually, or to not work at all. Women who do work often end up doing jobs that involve care, like teaching or nursing. These jobs often don’t pay as well as more traditionally ‘male’ industries. 

Caring for others is usually very rewarding, but it can also be a burden emotionally, physically and socially. We need to remember that women doing the vast majority of caregiving leads to gender inequality. It’s important that both men and women share the role of caring. 

References

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