I was awarded the John Fleetwood medal in 2014 for my abstract and platform presentation relating to my undergraduate thesis on older adults engaging with literacy services. At that time I had also just been awarded a PhD scholarship with Trinity College Dublin to explore older people's experiences of intergenerational friendship . The honour of being awarded the John Fleetwood medal encouraged me to pursue my studies in social gerontology. I was subsequently awarded an Irish Research Council Scholarship .
I have no doubt that participating in the IGS Annual Scientific Conference that year and in subsequent years, along with the Postgraduate Research Days, has provided a valuable source of encouragement and supported in allowing me to hone my skills as an early career researcher. Thus, I was afforded the opportunity to present my nascent findings at the IGS Conference in 2017.
I additionally went on to present on my research at the British Society of Gerontology Conference. My co-authored article titled 'Intergenerational friendships of older adults: why do we know so little about them?' has been published in Ageing and Society journal.
I look forward to disseminating my research in the coming months in collaboration with the BSG-NI through a workshop with community groups and third sector actors in Dublin, and also at an international conference in Oslo, Norway.
My research on adult intergenerational friendship supports the mission of the Irish Gerontological Society to contribute to the well-being of older people in contemporary societies. Focus and research on intergenerational friendship defies ageist and negative narratives of older people and older age. In challenging age segregation and the dichotomy of 'being older' and 'being younger' ,the intergenerational older friends spoke of joy and laughter, of belonging and of living their lives in a meaningful and enjoyable way through intergenerational friendship.
I look forward to the 66th Annual & Scientific Meeting 2018 and to supporting and gaining support for excellence in, and dissemination of, meaningful and valuable gerontological research.
Catherine Elliott O'Dare
Irish Research Council Postgraduate Scholar/ PhD Candidate
School of Social Work and Social Policy