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Rural ageing-in-place: community connectedness, health and wellbeing - an opportunity for new technologies?

  • Year: 2011
  • Author: Feist, Helen Ruth; Parker, Kelly Lyn; Howard, Natasha Jayne; Hugo, Graeme John
  • Journal Name: Public Health Bulletin South Australia
  • Journal Number: Vol.8, No.1
  • Publisher: Department of Health
  • Country: Australia
The Linking Rural Older People to Community through Technology project (the project) aims to improve access and connection to the wider community for older Australians in rural and remote locations through the use of new communication technologies. The focus on community connectedness is framed within a demographic and geographical perspective, particularly understanding the influence of rural spaces and places on ageing-in-place and social connections.1–3 The study region for the project is the Murray Lands Statistical Division, South Australia. This 3-year, multi phase project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and managed by the Murray Mallee Aged Care Group Inc., a community service provider based in Murray Bridge. Researchers from theNational Centre for Social Applications of GeographicInformation Systems (GISCA) at the University ofAdelaide are carrying out the research. The project used a spatial approach to study, and bothgeneral community members and community agedcare service users were sampled. Nearly 20 % of the total Murray Lands population aged 55 and over, were approached to be surveyed and the survey response rate was 22.6 %. A detailed explanation of thesampling approach is available in previous publications. The role that new technologies can play in connecting older people to other people within their existing networks and to wider community and interest networks needs to be explored further, as these connections are associated with subjective health and well-being. New technologies represent an ideal medium to foster and strengthen both localised,place-based community connections and dispersed social network ties. They also offer improved access torelevant information and services for older people livingin rural communities and the potential for increasedautonomy in decision-making about their own

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