Rural Healthy Ageing as Defined and Experienced by Older Australians

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Abstract

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.