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  • HART 10:06 am on 17/02/2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Volunteering   


    Volunteering.  Older people give more time to society.

    Older volunteers have a great deal to offer society in terms of work skills, lifetime experience, cultural knowledge and intergenerational links to the community. Volunteering is also good for older people.  A great deal of research has shown that volunteers are likely to have better physical and mental health, longer lives, and to be generally happier.

    Volunteers fixing a fence for Department of Conservation in Boundary Fence Mainland Island, Hawkes BayThe ICC results showed that volunteering rates are high in the New Zealand population of older people.  Overall, the proportion of people who volunteered at least once a year was very high (85%), with over half (52%) volunteering weekly or more.

    The two most common volunteering activities undertaken monthly or more were for leisure groups (36% ), community or service organisations (34% ), and religious, church, or other spiritual organisations (24% monthly or more).  Sports clubs (20% monthly or more) and “providing a community service” were also relatively common (14% monthly or more).

    Older people were more likely to be volunteering.  Forty percent of those between 60 and 64 years of age were giving time to a group or organisation at least once a week.  After retirement age (i.e. between the ages of 65 to 74) this proportion was higher at around 54%. For those between 75 and 79 years old it was even higher, with 65% of this age group volunteering their time once a week or more.

    These results indicate that most of this increased volunteer activity involves more time given to hobby and leisure groups, religious groups, and organisations that help people.  People did not increase the time given to activism, environmental stewardship, or in cultural knowledge and traditions or arts areas.

    Marae live by the time and effort given freely by its people, our findings showed that nearly half (46%) of those identifying as Maori had performed at least one role on their marae (e.g. ringa wera, kai karanga, or pou korero).  However it should also be acknowledged that there are many who live too far from their marae to help, are too ill to help, or are helping their local Māori community in other ways.

    Interviews with individuals have also shown that although people are keen to volunteer as shown in the ICC survey results, there are also barriers to continuing participation including costs, transport and ageism.  Given that there is much enthusiasm for ongoing and developing contribution through volunteering, and that volunteering is beneficial for society and individuals, what are the needs for support and encouragement to include as many people as possible in these activities.

  • HART 3:28 pm on 14/02/2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Internet Access 

    Internet Access.  Most older people have access to the internet at home


    ICC had a strong interest in the digital media use of older people.  With the internet becoming a central part of our lives there is a danger that some sectors of the population will be excluded because of barriers to use leading to a new form of inequality – ‘the digital divide’.

    Overall, the great majority (88%) of older people in this study have access to the internet from home.   Of those working, 66% were using the internet at work. A relatively small proportion (11%) used the internet from somewhere like a library or café.

    Home internet access was lower for the older group, with 93% of 60-64 year olds with access dropping to 79% of 75-79 year olds. The proportion saying they had somebody help them “use the internet” was 13% for those below 65 and 29% for 75-79 year olds.

    Email was by far the most common use with half (51%) using it twice a week or more.  Thirteen percent used the computer to find event information at least twice a week, and online shopping occurred the least frequently (11% used it twice a week or more).  There was little difference across the age groups; all showed a slight drop in frequency of use with increasing age, with email use and online shopping use dropping by around 10% between 60 and 79 years of age.

    Generally everybody (around 80%) agreed that the internet made it easier to reach or stay in touch with people, helped them to “feel more connected to friends and family/whānau” (64%), and increased how often they communicated with others (61%).  Less than half (43%) agreed that the internet made them feel less isolated and only 16% agreed that the internet made it easier to meet new people.

    There were a few interesting differences between those below and above 65.  Those who were older were slightly less likely to agree that the internet made it easier to reach people, contributed to keeping in touch, increased how often they communicated, and felt more connected. However, the proportion of those who agreed that the internet made them feel less isolated and made it easier to meet new people increased with age.

    These results suggest that the internet and its uses, especially email, are well accepted but there are some barriers to full access.  The oldest age group are more likely to see the internet as reducing isolation and enabling connections. However, these uses are currently low.  Older people’s use could grow with more targeted assistance.

  • HART 3:18 pm on 14/02/2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    How are we keeping in touch? 

    How are we keeping in touch? Texting children and friends.Paper Cup Phone

    The ICC study was particularly interested in social connections. The ability to keep up connections with friends and family, and supportive social networks are understood to be an important part of healthy ageing.  The ICC was tasked with examining how people keep in touch, and the ways in which people stay connected may be changing as society changes.

    Texting was the most popular method for keeping in touch with others.  Almost half of the ICC sample (45%) texted their children and friends two or three times a week or more. Around a quarter (27%) also texted relatives and neighbours (28%).

    Looking at the different age groups, we found that the frequency with which people talked or texted on the phone to their friends changed little with age, except for a small decrease after 74 years of age. Contact with relatives also dropped with increasing age. However, phone contact with children dropped steadily for those from 60 to 74 years of age (from 52% to 40%) before rising again to 45% of participants talking or texting at least 2-3 times per week after the age of 74. As people get older, they seem to keep in touch with neighbours more. The proportion of participants talking or texting twice a week or more to their neighbours rose from 20% to 39% in relation to the age of the participants.

    Meeting face to face was less common.  Around a quarter of the sample met with their children (26%), neighbours (21%), and friends (34%) twice a week or more. Very few met with other relatives this frequently (11%).  Meeting face to face with other people such as relatives and friends was very similar across all age groups.  Seeing children was also similar across the age groups except for those over the age of 74 who showed an increase in face to face contact with children (from 26% to 32% meeting twice a week or more).  As with phone contact, these older people were also more likely to report meeting their neighbours (14% of those under 74 years compared to 27% of those over 74 years).

    Online connections were fewer in this age group.  There was a moderate amount of online connection with children (20%) and friends (17%). Only 11%  interacted online twice a week or more with relatives and 3% with neighbours. Generally, there was no difference in how often different age groups spoke to friends, relatives, and neighbours online. There was a difference for speaking with children however, with 29% speaking twice a week or more dropping to around 19% for those aged over 65.

    Questions. The issues raised by these initial findings focus more on who is not connecting.  Older people in our sample are using a variety of ways of keeping in touch but the proportions for each mode are relatively small. Even texting to family and friends does not reach 50%.  Although the older age groups in the sample were more likely to have contact with children and neighbours, these remain relatively low proportions.  This raises questions about the difficulties of keeping in touch as we get older and the problems of isolation and loneliness that some older people face.

  • HART 3:16 am on 03/12/2013 Permalink | Reply

    The Health and Ageing Research Team 

    This Forum is dedicated to the findings of The Participation of Older People: Independence, Contribution, Connection study.   It explores health (physical & mental) and wellbeing, and some new topics including: what constitutes a ‘meaningful life’; your lifestyle plans; your employment; and your experiences of digital media. There is a separate supplementary questionnaire for those who have cared for someone with a long term-illness, disability or frailty.

    As the results of the study are analysed by the HART team, summaries will be posted on this forum for comment.

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