Friendship in Befriending? Older Service Users’ Notions of Friendship in a Befriending Scheme - Nasjonalt senter for aldring og helse

Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 2022

Friendship in Befriending? Older Service Users’ Notions of Friendship in a Befriending Scheme

ABSTRACT
Social isolation and feelings of loneliness are main reasons that befriending services are approached by older adults. The promise of an individually matched volunteer, a befriender, paying them regular visits, offers hope of increased social interaction, meaningfulness, and connectedness in everyday life. The current consensus in qualitative research literature is that loneliness and isolation may be alleviated by such home visits. Still, the actual mechanisms of successful befriending have not been identified. In this small-scale qualitative study, we highlight older befriendees’ notions of friendship in befriending. Drawing on in-depth interviews with seven Norwegian befriendees over the age of 80 years, we suggest that having a befriender visit regularly spurs a new bond and supports befriendees’ notions of a relationship consistent with a traditional understanding of friendship. Our findings illustrate how the older befriendees identify and portray notions of friendship in terms of bonding, compatibility and meaningful activities, commitment, appreciation, and insecurities. Understanding how a formalized volunteer service is recognized and valued as a friendship may contribute to a better starting point for improving befriending services. Furthermore, it can improve our understanding of the significance of friendship in old age.

Forfatter(e)

Kariann Krohne, Annelise D. Flor & Magnhild Nicolaisen

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