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Australian Research on Ageing, Families and Health Promotion

Hal Kendig, Colette Browning, Yvonne Wells

It is increasingly being recognised that the situations of older people reflect their life-long experiences as well as biological ageing, and that there is therefore the potential for improving the health of older people.

This paper presents the findings of two studies from an Australian research programme that aimed to provide a knowledge base for public action promoting the health and well-being of older people: Healthy and Independent Lives in Old Age, comprising in-depth interviews with 60 informants 65 years and older; and the Health Status of Older People, a longitudinal survey of 1000 older people in Melbourne.

The findings suggest that many influence on health are changeable and hence improvable. Basic lifestyles and health-related attitudes (“health identities”)are largely formed in childhood and are further shaped by marriage and having children.

Outcomes in old age are heavily influenced by whether one has a wife (less so a husband), has cared for or lost a spouse, or has had children or not. These findings indicate that health promotion policies need to take careful account of the different needs of people along the life span.

Cover photo of Social Policy Journal


Social Policy Journal of New Zealand: Issue 11

Australian Research on Ageing, Families, and Health Promotion

Dec 1998

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