HomeInitativesMobilising Research on Healthy Ageing in the MENA RegionActive Ageing: Social and cultural integration of Turkish migrants in London

Active Ageing: Social and cultural integration of Turkish migrants in London

Ageing of migrants in Europe has become an important policy issue, especially within the context of health inequalities and increasing health care costs. Based on in-depth interviews with older Alevi/Kurdish refugees in London, we explore the cumulative impact of difficult migration trajectories on the experience of ageing. The findings highlight the important role of cultural capital and transnational ties throughout the refugees’ migration journeys and particularly at old age. However, the study indicates the double edge impact of strong ‘solidarity’ bonds, increasing isolation at old age due to lack of accumulation of capital and knowledge, particularly language, which is important in accessing health and social care services at old age.

Migration has been in the majority regarded as a phenomenon that mainly affects the young, however, many earlier migrants are growing older in the majority of Europe. While considerable policy attention is given to the integration and settlement processes of migrants with some attention to the experience of women and children, very little attention is given to the growing group of older migrants. Forced migration in particular is associated with a significant physical and mental burden on refugees that expand over a long period of time.

Past and current migration trends and population ageing suggest that the issue of active ageing for older people from ethnic minority groups will become more imperative. In order to plan services for older refugees, it is important to understand how specific cultural and ethnic structures may impact individuals’ health and social care requirements.

The study highlights the vulnerable position of Turkish older people living in the UK. A continuum of events and reliance on a strong and supportive social structure facilitated their early settlement within a closed community, yet isolated many from the wider society. For older people, who in the majority suffer from different health problems at a younger age, ageing becomes a more stressful stage as the need to communicate, seek and access the wider society increases. There are clear needs for health and social care provisions to understand the level of isolation and complex needs among this community and to facilitate access through innovative practice and building bridges capitalising on the experience of community associations and younger generations.

Sema Oglak & Shereen Hussein (2016) Active Ageing: Social and Cultural Integration of Older Turkish Alevi Refugees in LondonJournal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 36:1, 74-87


Founder and Director
Shereen Hussein is a Health and Social Care Policy professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), United Kingdom.
Shereen Founded the MENARAH Network in 2019, through an initial grant from the Global Challenge Research Fund, UKRI. She is a medical demographer with expertise in ageing, family dynamics, migration and long-term care systems. Shereen regularly collaborates with the United Nations, the World Health Organisation and the World Bank in policy and research focused on ageing in the Middle East and North Africa Region.
Shereen received her undergraduate degree in statistics and a postgraduate degree in computer science at Cairo University. She completed an MSc in medical demography at the London School of Hygiene and a PhD in quantitative demography and population studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom.

Professor at Adnan Menderes Üniversitesi, Turkey

Adnan Menderes Üniversitesi, Turkey

Sema Oglak is a Professor at the University of Aydin Adnan Menderes, Department of Labor Economics and Industrial Relations. Following several post-doctoral posts, she became a visiting research fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London, UK. Her research covered long-term care experiences of the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Israel and Italy. Her main research interests are in elderly long-term care policy and services, active ageing, health promotion, age-friendly environments, migrant care workers, and volunteering issues. She has been involved in several national and international projects related to long-term care services.