In Canada older adults are over-represented in rural places and their proportion of the population is growing faster than in urban areas. Yet there is evidence that on average they have poor physical health compared to urban seniors, exacerbated by community settings in which services typically are basic and declining and health professionals are under-represented.
High levels of concern about older adults' well-being are ameliorated in part by the assumption that rural communities are close-knit and supportive. Good community connections and stable networks of friends and neighbours provide older adults with familiarity and continuity, helping to compensate for lack of services.
However the ways in which the social connections of older adults in rural communities might contribute to their well-being have not been fully explored. Variations in community size, distance from an urban centre, stability of the population, economy, amenities and opportunities available may affect how closely connected residents are .
Connectivity of Older Adults in Rural Communities: Health in Context Norah Keating (PI), Verena Menec (University of Manitoba) and Jacquie Eales (University of Alberta) with funding from a CIHR UK joint intiative (2009-2011) and in partnership with the UK New Dynamics of Ageing (NDA) Grey and Pleasant Land? research programme led by Professor Catherine Hennessy at the University of Plymouth will:
enhance understanding of how social relationships and engagement in rural places enhance or constrain quality of life
increase understanding of what constitutes 'age-friendly' communities across Canadian and UK rural settings
enhance knowledge of collaborative interdisciplinary international relationships