Elderly are very inventive

Elderly are very inventive

It would seem that the notion of the elderly not being very good at problem solving and stuck in their ways is somewhat of a myth.

Elderly rural people become experts in working-around the limitations of a rural or remote location, according to a research project that is being conducted by CSU academics in the Blayney Shire.

Team leader Dr Ann Lazarsfeld-Jensen said early analysis of interviews showed that older people were more likely to find unique and personal solutions, rather than lobby for big-picture solutions to the lack of services, such as poor public transport or the lack of specialist health services.

This inventiveness also applied to creating income sources as they aged, and finding ways to keep up with the garden despite surgery and arthritis.

The researchers found that even where some public transport was available, it was not an easy or viable option for people living in villages beyond Bathurst.

For some older people public transport imposes more walking and carrying than they can usually achieve, particularly if they start the journey in the mountains to reduce travel time.

“For those who catch the XPT at the moment, it means paying for a night’s accommodation to ensure they get to the station early enough, and find parking,” she said.

“People were surprisingly uncomplaining, because they had made their choice about where they lived.”

People were surprisingly uncomplaining, because they had made their choice about where they lived.

Dr Ann Lazarsfeld-Jensen

One of the most valued services for the frail elderly in remote villages was the door-to-door community transport service.

It was important because often the frailest are being cared for by people who are also elderly, and less able to assist, and also because it was able to provide some social contact.

Inventiveness is an important dimension of resilience.

The Blayney Shire studies are also tending to show that rural people derive strength from a deep attachment to the land and the place where they have spent their lives.

The attachment to place actually becomes a source of resilience, and provides people with meaning and purpose.