With the aging trend in the territory, it is vital that we understand the influences on the livelihood of our older population which sits at greater than 10 percent of the territorial population. Beginning in 2013, nurse researchers with Aurora Research Institute in partnership with the NWT Seniors’ Society undertook a project to study the influences on the quality of life (QOL) of older adults in the NWT. This was a community based participatory action research study engages with older adults in the NWT to identify current actual and potential influences upon and threats to their QOL.
QOL is defined by WHO (1997) as “perception of position in life in the context of culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards and concerns.” The objectives of this study were to provide a rich background and context for ‘influences on QOL of the older adult in the NWT and examine the history of the NWT Seniors’ Society and changes to services and programming for older adults in the territory over the past 30 years.
This study used individual interviews, focus groups and town hall meetings to explore influences of QOL. As well, we conducted a modified Delphi to describe the history and achievements of the NWT Seniors’ Society over the past 30 years. Participants were recruited through purposive and snowball sampling. Data was collected by telephone, face to face and email means. Data was analyzed using content analysis/thematic approach.
The influences on QOL for older adults are captured under good life, life struggles, current needs for a better life, most significant concerns, and changes over the past 30 years. NWT communities are culturally distinct and diverse. Their uniqueness cannot be understated and community contexts are determinants of the participants’ QOL. Stories from the participants were rich and varied.
Advocacy: Continue to advocate for affordable cost of living, healthy communities for aging older adults, effective health services, drug and alcohol addiction, healthy public policy;
Education: Assistance to apply for benefits, access electronics and internet, education on healthy aging, genealogy, health and well-being, financial management;
Leadership: Capacity building of leaders within each community, representation and recognition of leaders, successional planning for leaders within the NWT Seniors’ Society;
Research: Formal training of PAR for community members (photovoice), spontaneous translation in First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities, developing a research agenda for older adults, replicate the study with more communities, explore funding options for community partners.
The final report was published December 2014 and available for download below.