Here is your beloved Power Up Friday post…
“The new currency won’t be intellectual capital. It will be social capital – the collective value of whom we know and what we’ll do for each other. When social connections are strong and numerous, there is more trust, reciprocity, information flow, collective action, happiness, and, by the way, greater wealth.”
– James Kouzes
Thanks to Christa’s 6/2 post, I’ve been looking into Dr. Ernst Gehmacher and other writings on social capital. As the quote above suggests, social capital and aging in community will be the touchstones for changing aging in the coming decades. Here are a few things I’ve learned:
– Pollack and von dem Knesebeck (2004) studied individual social capital in Germany and the US, measured as degree of participation, reciprocity and civic trust. They found that low social capital correlated with low self-reports of health, more depression and functional limitations.
– Nilsson (2006) looked at social capital among 1135 older adults in rural Bangladesh and found that low social capital was a significant predictor of poor quality of life. (It appears that this concept holds across cultures and socioeconomic strata.)
– A soon-to-be-published Harvard study, (Ertel, et al.), shows that increased social interaction slows memory loss in older adults.
As Dawn Carr concluded in a 2005 paper, aging should be viewed for its potential, not as a “problem”. Society needs to invest in social capital for all, which means valuing the needs of elders, even though they may no longer be economically productive. Further, we need to recognize what elders can offer society and create opportunities for this reciprocity.
Gehmacher said it best in his position statement for the Club of Rome: A full social and community life is “a fundamental human right”.
More on social capital and dementia next week….
— Al Power