With rapid population aging, policy makers and service providers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of building and maintaining age-friendly communities. Clearly, “age-friendly” relates to the impact of context on people’s well-being. But how? What is an age-friendly community, and does that differ for native and immigrant older people? How can we ensure that older citizens, with and without a migration background, can age in a pleasant way in their own neighbourhood? Prof. Anna Petra Nieboer and Prof. Jane Murray Cramm have been awarded a subsidy from the NWO through their Open Competition to help facilitate the research project on this topic.
Up until now, how native and immigrant older people in the Netherlands perceive community age-friendliness, and whether and how age-friendly communities help them realise well-being, remains unknown which limits opportunities to develop appropriate interventions.
Good interventions are built on good theory. To understand differences in neighbourhood age-friendliness and requirements for age-friendly community development between native and immigrant older people, a theory-guided approach will be used. This research will add to theory building by systematically examining what older people get from their neighbourhoods and the conditions that influence well-being realisation, including the role of individual and neighbourhood resources.
Exploring new terrain
A mixed-methods design will be used consisting of: (i) Q-studies (combining in-depth interview-based and quantitative analyses); (ii) a pilot survey study; (iii) a main survey study in Rotterdam, the Hague, Utrecht, and Amsterdam; and (iv) focus groups. By exploring truly new ground in the field of age-friendly communities, the results of the proposed research will provide new empirical evidence, advance theory, and be helpful for the development of interventions aimed at improving age-friendliness and well-being for native and immigrant older populations, thereby contributing to resolving the societal challenges of caring for and supporting older people in the community. “This project tells us how we can ensure that elderly, with and without a migration background, can grow old pleasantly in their own neighbourhood,” Nieboer says about the research project. “It contributes to good care and support of older people in society.”