Rural Healthy Ageing as Defined and Experienced by Older Australians

The number of older people is increasing worldwide. Rural areas are of particular concern given the high proportion of older people and potential disadvantages associated with ageing in these areas. The subsequent social and economic “panic” has been a catalyst for research and policy focusing on promoting “healthy ageing.” However, a clear definition of healthy ageing does not exist in government policy, the health professions, or the literature. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine how eleven older rural Australians define healthy ageing and what factors facilitate or inhibit this process within their community. The findings show that participants defined healthy ageing as an attitude and sense of autonomy, which were related to connections with people, place, and activity. This study demonstrated the importance of individual community data in defining healthy ageing and the factors affecting it. The findings can be used to ensure that health-related programs, services, and policies are community-based, inclusive of older residents, and targeted to the needs of those they aim to serve.

What Makes a Community Age-friendly? Conceptualizing Livability through Mapping

As the number of older adults who live at home throughout later life increases, it is important to understand what makes a community livable—or “age-friendly”—for an aging population. We do not adequately understand dimensions of community participation in relation to older adults’ overall well-being, and current conceptualizations do not always reflect lived experiences of older adults. This multiple case study employs GPS mapping methods, interviews, and naturalistic observation to obtain an empirically grounded model of community participation for older adults. Findings include varied temporal patterns and unique spatial characteristics of participation; these findings suggest a need to re-conceptualize a community’s “age-friendliness” though a lens of older adults’ engagement in daily activities. Instead of conceptualizing age-friendliness as a list of features available in a community, these findings highlight the need for a more dynamic understanding of older adults’ ability to participate in the necessary and chosen activities of everyday life, thereby maximizing well-being.

Sustainable Homes for the Elderly

The rapidly growing elderly population is a worldwide concern due to the added pressure on public resources and the associated difficulties with supporting these vulnerable members of society. In the UK, ten million people were over sixty-five years old in 2010, and this is projected to increase to nineteen million by 2020. Over two million households are considered to be in fuel poverty and living in unsatisfactory conditions, and many of those people struggling to afford their energy bills are elderly. Fuel poverty is proven to lead to decreased health, quality of life, and wellbeing. Often, assisted- and independent-living features are considered separately from sustainable and energy-efficient design strategies. In this article, the authors argue that due to the overlaps between the concepts and their benefits, these should be considered holistically in the design of housing solutions for the elderly in order to include all key components that help to support health and wellbeing: spatial quality, easy mobility, adaptability, environmental comfort, energy efficiency, and smart technologies for domestic health care monitoring. The Nottingham H.O.U.S.E. in Nottingham, UK, an exemplary sustainable home, was used as a vehicle to explore this approach. A multi-objective methodology was used: spatial and environmental standard parameters were compared and aligned with users’ needs as gathered from interviews and empirical data. Significant reductions of 61 percent of energy demand when compared to a typical dwelling for elderly users were achieved, with comfort standards maintained full-time and spatial requirements adapted to support independent living.