Interview Warsha Jagroep – how to create age-friendly neighborhoods for elderly migrants?

Warsha Jagroep studies how age-friendly environments can be created for elderly migrants, which support and stimulate them to remain physically active. Elderly migrants often suffer more from chronic diseases at a younger age than the native-born elderly. In many cases, these chronic diseases can be prevented by remaining active. Her key question is therefore: which neighborhood characteristics can you change in order to keep elderly migrants physically active?

What research methods do you use?

To get an overview of the available literature on behavioral change interventions and the health and wellbeing of elderly migrants, a systematic literature review is conducted. To gain insight into the perspective of elderly migrants on the facilitation of ageing in their neighborhood and their physical activities, I will conduct surveys and interviews with elderly migrants that live in Rotterdam. 

How interdisciplinary is you research?

This study is a collaboration between the Erasmus School of Health Policy and Management and the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences. I completed the bachelor ‘Gezondheid en Leven’ (health and life) and afterwards an accelerated nursing training. After two years of care for the elderly, I earned my master’s degree Vitality and Aging in Leiden. The first part of this study is mainly medical. In the second part we want to develop an intervention, in which we actually want to adjust certain factors in the neighborhood to see it this affects the behavior or elderly migrants in a positive way. Psychology is also a part of this phase. 

How does your research impact society?

The questions we ask are interesting for policymakers and other professionals that can actually change things in the neighborhood. For example, are there enough parks nearby and are they accessible for wheelchairs and walking frames? Which activities are organized for the elderly and are they easy to reach? This study will contribute to future policy, to foster the physical activities of elderly migrants in the neighborhood. 

In what way would you like to make an impact in the future?

Through BIG’R, a collaboration between the Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Municipality of Rotterdam to stimulate positive behavior among the people of Rotterdam, we eventually want to change the living environments of elderly migrants in a way that the residents are stimulated to remain physically active. 

The outcomes of this study are also relevant for cities. This is why I want to communicate the research findings in a manner accessible to policymakers throughout the Netherlands and abroad. How will I do this is still something to think- and have conversations about. But let’s start with finalizing the literature review! 

Vital Cities and Citizens

With the Erasmus Initiative Vital Cities and Citizens Erasmus University Rotterdam wants to help improve the quality of life in cities. In vital cities, the population can achieve their life goals through education, useful work and participation in public life. The vital city is a platform for creativity and diversity, a safe meeting place for different social groups. The researchers involved focus on one of the four sub-themes:

•    Inclusive Cities and Diversity
•    Resilient Cities and People
•    Smart Cities and Communities 
•    Sustainable and Just Cities

VCC is a collaboration between Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB), Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC) and International Institute of Social Studies (ISS).