Rural seniors give SPHERU perspectives of healthy aging in place

November 28, 2013

The Healthy Aging in Place team had a journal article looking at the perceptions of rural adults this fall published online in the journal Educational Gerontology.

The piece was authored by SPHERU’s Juanita Bacsu, Bonnie Jeffery, Sylvia Abonyi, Shanthi Johnson, Nuelle Novik, Diane Martz and Sarah Oosman.

The article highlights that initiatives around healthy aging in place have traditionally been built around the views of health professionals, the research community or those that make policy.

Through interviews with 40 older adults, this article sheds light on the perspectives of rural seniors themselves. The participants lived in Watrous and Wollesley, Sask., and were interviewed between September 2011 and August 2012.

The study's results found the rural older adults situated healthy aging in place within a more holistic context of health instead of merely the more traditional biomedical approach.

Rather than explicitly defining what healthy aging in place meant to them, some focused on the challenges of healthy aging, especially challenges such as cognitive decline and the loss of mobility. Rural seniors' perceptions of healthy aging in place stressed the importance of social interaction with friends and family, staying active, retaining independence over one’s life, keeping a positive mental outlook as well as mental sharpness.

The study highlights the need for local input from seniors as well as the importance of cultural context when developing interventions that will support healthy aging in place. As the article concludes, “In conducting rural healthy aging research, the importance of community-level input and understanding rural seniors' perspectives cannot be overstated.”


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