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Old Age Is Ok

Research has shown that many New Zealanders feel positive about growing old.

How we cope with getting old and the contributions that older people make to society is the focus of a four-year study, supported by the Public Good Science Fund and led by Professor Sik Hung Ng of the University of Victoria.

Preliminary findings have shown that older people are not isolated from their families and the difficulty of growing older is reduced by good relationships.

Expectations about old age were particularly positive among people who were financially secure and who retained good health and a physically active lifestyle.

“Our research goal is not only tolerance of, but a celebration of diversity, and as such we want to explore the experience of Europeans, Chinese and M‡ori,” Professor Ng, a lecturer in psychology.

“Cross cultural research helps social policies to become sensitive to particular ethnic circumstances, and cautions against over- generalised, single-model policies that fail to take account of the increasing plurality of New Zealand society.”

The research has three central themes: social cohesion between older and younger generations within the family and in the public arena, the well being and contributions of older adults, and life transitions in middle and late adulthood.

So far Professor Ng and his team have recruited over 800 research participants aged from 40 to 79.

The research team also consulted with a wide range of groups including representatives from New Zealand Police, Age Concern, Greypower, Ministry of Social Policy, Hillary Commission, Department of Internal Affairs; Human Rights Commission; Super 2000 task force; Office of the Retirement Commissioner and others.

“We want our work to be able to be used in a practical way to help people age positively. It’s important that the results of our research are shared with government departments, older people and the community, not only other academics,” said research fellow Dr Susan Gee.

“Our perspective is that positive aging can be a reality for many people, and that there is much that we as individuals and as a society can do to facilitate that.”

For further information: Dr Susan Gee, Research Fellow, Positive Aging and Intergenerational Relations Phone 04 494 5233 ext 8037,

Patricia Donovan, Foundation for Research Science and Technology Phone 04 498 7809 Mobile 025 226 4136

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