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Sharing the wisdom of our Elders: Understanding and promoting healthy ageing with older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

This project aims to:

  1. document health, resilience, social connectedness and engagement with community and culture with a diverse group of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are “growing old well”
  2. share Elders’ insights into the meaning of healthy ageing and stories of “growing old well”
  3. identify current services/programs and whether these align with the needs and expectations of the ageing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

Aboriginal people will be involved in all aspects of this study, including study leadership and in the research design, conduct, dissemination and translation. Local Aboriginal researchers are employed across partnering urban and rural study sites (Sydney metro and NSW mid-North coast) to support study recruitment, scheduling, surveys and assessments and connecting participants to appropriate community services/supports.

The study will further develop the capacity of these researchers through fostering qualitative research skills (e.g. design and delivery of semi-structured interviews and focus groups) and exposure to Participatory Action research methods. It will also enhance community ownership of the research through co-development of “ageing well” resources and targeted grassroots dissemination of research findings.

This project will leverage a major study of ageing in urban/rural Aboriginal communities to:

  • increase understanding of the multifaceted and diverse meanings of “healthy ageing” in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • empower local communities and younger generations
  • inform ageing policy and service provision.

A mixed-methods design will be used to:

  1. analyse and report on a comprehensive longitudinal survey of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from NSW
  2. engage with Aboriginal community controlled health services and older people to design, produce and disseminate “ageing well” resources (with process documentation and evaluation), and
  3. conduct environmental scans of services currently provided and interview staff on their knowledge and attitudes of healthy ageing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This project will contribute to dementia prevention and better services through raising community awareness of healthy ageing across the life course, developing empowering educational resources suitable for and accessible to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of all ages, and highlighting the meaning of healthy ageing from the perspectives of older Aboriginal people and how these align with current services. Importantly, it will include the stories of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, in their own words, alongside extensive population-level data.

The project will also work with Elders to:

  1. produce an Aboriginal–specific “ageing well” education resource for community members, health professionals, teachers, parents and caregivers
  2. preserve Aboriginal Elders’ knowledge as well as sharing their stories of ageing well, for present and future generations
  3. increase awareness and disseminate information on healthy ageing and dementia prevention to Aboriginal service providers and health workers.

Finally, this project will identify ways in which current services and planners/policy makers can better meet the needs of an ageing Aboriginal population.

Principal partnerships: NSW urban and rural Aboriginal community partners with the Koori Growing Old Well Study, The University of New South Wales, Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA), Menzies School of Health Research.

Created: 22 January 2018 - Updated: 23 January 2018