The role of empowerment and agency in the lives of older men living alone


  • Insa Fooken Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany
  • Miranda Leontowitsch Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany
  • Frank Oswald Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany



Agency, empowerment, Germany, living alone, masculinities, older men


Longevity and changes in family status are leading to a growing number of men living alone in later life. They are often considered an at risk group in terms of deprivation, suicide and mental health problems, a perspective that has informed community services. This paper reports on a study that set out to get a better understanding of this historically new group, particularly in light of significant structural and cultural changes to later life and ageing. The study used interviews with stakeholders and biographical interviews with older men living alone in Frankfurt/Main, a city with a particularly high rate of men over 65 in single occupancy households. The analysis suggests that service providers were interested in encouraging men to recognise and act on their needs, an approach informed by empowerment as well as active ageing strategies. The analysis from the biographical data shows that living alone was a learning process and involved the ability for men to care for themselves as well as others. Learning to live alone enabled them to maintain an identity as an independent individual.


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How to Cite

Fooken, I., Leontowitsch, M., & Oswald, F. (2019). The role of empowerment and agency in the lives of older men living alone. European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 10(3), 231–246.