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Social connectedness and rural ageing


Baynes, HJ and Orpin, P and Walker, JH, Social connectedness and rural ageing, Abstracts for the 43rd National Conference of the Australian Association of Gerontology, 17-19 November 2010, Hobart, Tasmania, pp. 3. (2010) [Conference Extract]


Background: Older rural people’s family and community connections are crucial in helping them successfully deal with age/health-related changes. Despite this we still do not have a good understanding of the ways in which these informal social networks function in practice to meet, or not meet the individual needs of older rural people. Methods: This presentation draws on data from semistructured interviews with 69 older rural people from six localities in Tasmania collected as part of an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage grant project. Findings: Findings reveal that the size, and even the makeup, of networks are not necessarily good indicators of what constitutes an effective resource and support network in terms of meeting individual older rural people’s needs. Rather, effective networks appear to share four characteristics. Firstly, they encompass a range of connection types – including the intense and close, the episodic and occasional and the gossamer-like webs of connection that develop over an extended shared history. Secondly, they contain considerable functional overlap and some level of redundancy. Thirdly, there is some element of reciprocity and fi nally, they achieve the right balance between availability when needed and permitting the individual to maintain their sense of privacy and independence. These characteristics, in combination, allow the individual the fl exibility to use their connections in ways that most closely meet their needs at any particular time or in any specifi c respect. Conclusion: These fi ndings argue against simple service models and uni-dimensional interventions to address the support needs of older rural people. Successful supports, formal or informal, should address the functional breadth and complexity that mark effective support networks. The benefi ts of incorporating the older person’s perspective are also highlighted.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Keywords:rural, ageing, social engagement
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Rural sociology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health)
Objective Field:Rural and remote area health
UTAS Author:Baynes, HJ (Dr Hazel Baynes)
UTAS Author:Orpin, P (Dr Peter Orpin)
UTAS Author:Walker, JH (Professor Judi Walker)
ID Code:67694
Year Published:2010
Deposited By:UTAS Centre for Rural Health
Deposited On:2011-03-07
Last Modified:2011-03-07

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