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Active ageing on an extreme earth: will we reach a century?


Annear, MJ, Active ageing on an extreme earth: will we reach a century?, 47th Australian Association of Gerontology national conference 2014, 26-28 November, 2014, Adelaide, Australia (2014) [Conference Extract]

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Background: Active ageing is a catchcry of health organisations and governments that seek reductions in age and lifestyle-related chronic disease. However, macro environmental forces, including natural disasters, threaten to disrupt healthful activity among the 65 and older cohort during the 21st Century. This presentation explores older adult activity and resilience in the face of extreme environmental disruption.

Methods: Framed as participatory action research, a multi-stage, mixed methods design was employed among 355 older adults living in a large New Zealand city during a series of earthquake disasters. Research methods included environmental audits, surveys, activity diaries augmented with photovoice, and focus group discussions.

Results: Neighbourhood physical and social environment forms an activity core for older adults, but natural disasters threaten the coherence of this context. Earthquake disasters particularly challenged older adults closest to the epicentre or in higher-deprivation areas where properties are less resilient. More vulnerable sub populations, including older women and ethnic minorities, were disproportionately affected. Specific activity disruption was identified in relation to loss of activity venues, cancellation of meetings and events, confinement and isolation, fragmentation of social network, emergence or exacerbation of local hazards, and disruptions to activities of daily living.

Conclusions: The data support a theory of navigated environmental performance, which explains and predicts active ageing behaviour against a backdrop of personal and urban environmental barriers, including unanticipated and rapid environmental change illustrated by a series of earthquake disasters.

Implications: Local and national governments should carefully consider the manner in which unanticipated disasters can potentially cause long-term disruption to community based active ageing. Increasing urban resilience, retrofitting based on principles of age-friendly design, and promoting programs that support increased social engagement will help to lift activity thresholds and protect older adults from ongoing or acute environmental challenges.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Keywords:Active ageing, earthquake, disaster, action research
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Health services and systems not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Evaluation of health and support services
Objective Field:Health inequalities
UTAS Author:Annear, MJ (Dr Michael Annear)
ID Code:97131
Year Published:2014
Deposited By:Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2014-12-04
Last Modified:2014-12-04

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