Statistics show a generalized aging in populations for the most industrialized countries. Absence of policies on aging, like in Portugal, change in the household composition, negative age stereotypes conveyed by the media, the post-modern individualism and consumer mentality contribute to marginalize the elders, considered a burden to society, relegating them to isolation that often causes depression and make them reluctant to leave home and engage in learning activities to improve their wellbeing. This article aims to present results of a European funded project (Grundtvig Learning Partnerships) - Food for Body, Mind and Spirit - Gathering Europe around the Table - in which a group of about twenty “very old” (+80) people of a Catholic Parish in Lisbon, Portugal - were involved. Food was used as a catalyst to promote healthy aging and good lifestyle, to encourage peer learning, as well as intergenerational and intercultural interaction. Results suggest that the project motivated older people for self-realization by empowering them to improve their self-esteem and self confidence, better nutrition habits, as well as greater willingness to engage in physical activities. The project further fostered intergenerational communication within the elders’ families. Besides, interactions between different groups in our organisation that took place for the development of the project objectives and activities, contributed to an increased awareness that commonalities between people from different cultures, customs and religions surpass differences, through understanding and respect for the other.
Maria José Gonçalves, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal
Stream: Adult and lifelong learning
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