Poster Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

What keeps you strong? Supporting the wellbeing of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (#202)

Carol Davy 1 , Elaine Kite 1 , Graham Aitken 2 , Janice Rigney 3 , Garth Dodd 3 , Jenny Hayes 3 , Jan Van Emden 4
  1. South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, Adelaide, SA, Australia
  2. Aboriginal Elders and Community Care Services Inc., Adelaide, SA, Australia
  3. Council of Aboriginal Elders of South Australia Inc, Adelaide, SA, Australia
  4. Helping Hand Aged Care, Adelaide, SA, Australia

Mainstream aged-care providers struggle to understand what successful ageing means for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Generative theory, which acknowledges the importance of continuing to grow through the ageing process suggests ways in which successful ageing can be understood and supported. In addition to developing strategies which ensure the social and cultural needs of older Aboriginal peoples are met, a research program undertaken in collaboration with an Aboriginal Community Controlled aged care service is exploring the link between generativity and wellbeing within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.

In this presentation, the foundational work of this research program will be discussed including findings from a large systematic review. The results of this review suggested that Indigenous identity was central to wellbeing for many Indigenous peoples from across the globe. Crucial to maintaining their identities was a sense of independence, whereby older Indigenous peoples are able to contribute to and remain active members of their community. As physical independence often diminishes with age, having the support of culturally safe primary health care and aged care services that understand the importance of maintaining Indigenous identities and also cater for the particular needs of Indigenous peoples was also found to be important. Given that Indigenous peoples from many different countries have been impacted by assimilation policies, services that also support Indigenous peoples to reconnect with their culture, community and family may be particularly crucial. In Australia, it is critical that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples be involved in planning, implementing and managing aged care services in order to ensure the health and wellbeing of the older members of their communities.