The Oldest Generation

Do you live in a family, or know of one, where there’s a member who is over 75? If you are we, that is Joanna Bornat and Bill Bytheway of the OU’s Faculty of Health and Social Care, would like to hear from you.

We are about to start work on ‘The Oldest Generation’ which is part of Timescapes, a nationwide group of seven projects, covering the lifespan. This £3.5m ESRC funded research consortium aims to follow individuals and inter-generational groups over time studying changes their social networks, and in society and family life more generally. While some projects will be looking at children, young people and mid life, our project will be drawing on the experiences of older people, their families and friends.

We are looking for 12 families across the UK who would be interested in taking part in this project for a period of 18 months. To be involved means having a family member over the age of 75, who might be living alone, with a partner, or in a care setting.

It also means finding another family member, or it could be a close friend or associate, who would be willing to act as a ‘recorder’. While the project is running, the older member or ‘senior’ will be interviewed on two occasions, about their life, and the family’s history and heritage. This will be a kind of oral history. Meanwhile the recorder will be asked to carry out three tasks: keeping a diary; taking photographs at key family events and providing some basic information on the generational structure of the family, the members of the oldest generation, and patterns of contact amongst everyone.

We will keep in regular touch with the recorder who, like the senior, will receive a small reimbursement for taking part.

If there’s something here that sounds interesting, if you’d like to know more do get in touch with us:

Joanna Bornat – [email protected] – Bill Bytheway – [email protected] – or you could write to us at: Faculty of Health and Social Care, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA.