Planning for Older Adults: Experiences in Physical Activity
The New Zealand population, like many other Western countries, is currently experiencing an ageing phenomenon. Increased life expectancy, declining fertility rates and the ‘baby-boomer’ generation approaching retirement, all contribute to New Zealand’s ageing population. By 2051, there will be 1.18 million people aged 65 and older, representing an increase of 165% since 2001. The rapidly ageing population will have significant social, cultural and economic implications in the future. The main areas of concern at the national level will be the future sustainability of the taxpayer-funded superannuation, and the increasing costs associated with providing older adults with social welfare, health facilities and disability services. There will also be many planning implications at the local level, to prepare and implement a range of strategies to enable older people to keep their independence and security in their communities. Therefore, there is an urgent need for older adults to remain active, by participating in regular physical activity, to have healthy and satisfied lives beyond retirement. This research investigates older adults’ participation in physical activity in New Zealand, using Dunedin City as a case study. In this research an ‘older adult’ refers to a person who is aged 65 and older. This thesis investigates the key barriers to, and opportunities, for their participation in physical activity. The extent the current planning system is enabling older adults to participate in, and what services and resources are currently designated to increase this involvement, will be analysed. It will also examine how physical activity can be best planned for at the local level in the future, special emphasis will be given to Māori adults. A humanistic qualitative approach was utilised in this research, which allowed a comprehensive understanding of informants’ experiences and perceptions. Thirty-nine semi-structured interviews were conducted across three respondent groups. These included; 12 adults in Dunedin, 14 planning professionals working within local councils and 13 employees in the sport and health industry. This gave a broad multi-faceted understanding of the research area. Results suggest that there are a number of barriers that exist at the personal, community and national levels. These have varied in their effect, based on individuals’ life experiences and personal characteristics. However, there are a number of opportunities for being physically active. It can be deduced that there is insufficient central guidance to encourage older adults to be active at the local level. Every local council has planned for their ageing population in a different way, and several specific examples are provided. Research resulted in a number of key findings. These will be of value to; central government, the sport and health industry and local government, with specific reference to Dunedin and the wider Otago region. Some of these findings are general in nature, while others are more specific, and these were largely derived from older adults’ personal experiences.
Advisor: Day, Rosalind
Degree Name: Master of Planning
Degree Discipline: Geography
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: ageing population; older adults; physcial activity; exercise; active ageing; planning; Dunedin
Research Type: Thesis