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Type: Journal article
Title: Places and health: A qualitative study to explore how older women living alone perceive the social and physical dimensions of their neighbourhoods
Author: Walker, R.
Hiller, J.
Citation: Social Science and Medicine, 2007; 65(6):1154-1165
Publisher: Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd
Issue Date: 2007
ISSN: 0277-9536
Statement of
Ruth B. Walker and Janet E. Hiller
Abstract: There is growing interest in the impact that neighbourhood environment might have on the health of older people. Although the number of older Australian women, particularly those living alone, is projected to increase in coming decades, their experiences of neighbourhood have not been exclusively examined. The aims of this paper are: (1) to explore, from the perspective of these women, the social and physical dimensions of neighbourhoods and (2) to investigate variation in these accounts according to whether women lived in areas of higher or lower socioeconomic status. Twenty women aged between 75 and 93 years, residing in metropolitan Adelaide, South Australia (SA), participated in a series of two in-depth interviews. Women's perceptions of their neighbourhood, and accounts of every-day activities in the community were analysed to determine how both social and physical aspects of neighbourhood might relate to health and wellbeing. Findings suggest that a reciprocal and trusting relationship with neighbours underpinned older women's sense of satisfaction with, and feeling of security within, the neighbourhood. Other factors such as living in close proximity to services and existing social networks were also seen as important. Women's stories demonstrated that they were able to draw on both existing social networks and neighbours to sustain their independence and social connection within the community. Women living in more disadvantaged areas were more conscious of social disconnection in their neighbourhoods, and to the way that traffic noise and pollution detracted from their neighbourhood environment. These findings indicate that, for older women living alone, trusting and reciprocal relationships with neighbours are likely to form an important part of their broader social support network and should be recognised in relation to the process of maintaining the health of older women living in the community.
Keywords: Australia
Older women
Social capital
Description: Copyright © 2007 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved.
DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2007.04.031
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