Active ageing a research focus

Within the next quarter of a century, the number of New Zealanders aged over 65 will double. This will create challenges as to how best we can respond to such a profound democratic shift.

A major research project being led by Waikato University's Professor Peggy Koopman-Boyden aims to provide policy makers with the information they need to respond to that change. The project will also help inform society on what it might do to assist older people to age actively so they can continue to be happier and healthier and enjoy a meaningful life.

"We know that in older years, the more active you are - both physically and mentally - the happier and healthier you are," Professor Koopman-Boyden says.

"We also know that older people have a great deal to contribute; but some may need assistance to do so."

The research project - Making Active Ageing a Reality - has secured funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and is based at Waikato University's National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis. It will undertake research in three main areas.

"We want to ask older people, 'what is it that makes like meaningful for you?' That may be different for each person but we expect many will talk about friendship and connectedness and contributing socially and economically," Professor Koopman-Boyden says.

"We also want to explore the implications of continuing paid work in older years, and employers' perspective on this."

Thirdly, the researchers will look at how older people can use digital technology to keep them connected to the outside world and to live better.

"Most of us will live to old age," Professor Koopman-Boyden said. "And if everyone can age actively, everyone wins."

Supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.