Ageing Alone and Coping Strategies
Researchers Nina Conkova, Julie Vullnetari, Russell King, and Tineke Fokkema explored and compared older adults’ lived experiences and coping strategies in two postcommunist countries: Albania and Bulgaria.
Wholesale youth outmigration and economic and institutional regional decline have led to decaying rural areas where older adults become “abandoned.” They are ageing alone, as couples or widowed, are socially marginalized and in constant search for coping mechanisms which enable them to survive.
The researchers found that in both countries, rural social isolation is expressed as a lack of close family ties - mainly due to the removal through outmigration of children and grandchildren - and detachment from society at large. The most prevalent coping mechanism consists of practical and emotional support from non-kin ties, especially neighbours. Remittances help to resolve material needs, especially in Albania, where most rural young people migrate abroad. In both settings, a range of emotion-focused coping strategies were identified, including perceptions of decreased needs, lowered expectations about relationships, and satisfaction at the achievements of the younger generations.