Pioneers in Aging: Voices of Women Age 85 and Older Aging-in-Place in Rural Communities
Olive Bryanton is currently a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI), Canada. She also received her B.A. and MEd from UPEI and in 2000 she was recognized for her work as an advocate for older adults with an Honorary Degree from UPEI. Her research area of interest is older women, especially the oldest, old women whom she considers are pioneers in aging, and like all pioneers they have tremendous strengths but also face many challenges in their ageing journey. Olive’s research question is: what are the lived realities of women age 85 and older living in rural communities specifically, what supports or limits their ability to age-in-place. She used Photovoice to understand the realities of these women
Pioneers in Aging: Voices of Women Age 85 and Older Aging-in-Place in Rural Communities
Professor Elizabeth Townsend, PhD, FCAOT
Dr. Townsend is Professor Emerita, School of Occupational Therapy, at Dalhousie University and Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI). Her UPEI work focuses on social and political theories of justice and human rights in everyday occupations, informed by Smith’s (2006) institutional ethnography and Nussbaum’s (2006) capabilities approach. At Dalhousie University, she was one of four founding faculty who started the only School of Occupational therapy in Atlantic Canada at Dalhousie University in 1982. She became a Full Professor and the 2nd Director of the School in 1997 and Professor Emerita in 2010. She is a founding member of the International Society of Occupational Scientists and the Canadian Society of Occupational Scientists. Dr. Townsend has received many awards including the Muriel Driver Lectureship (1993) and Ruth Zemke Lectureship (2014). Two named honours for her work are the Canadian Society for Occupational Science Townsend – Polatajko Lectureship, and the Dalhousie University Townsend Fellowship in Occupation and Society. She is past co-chair of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) International Advisory Group (IAG) on Human Rights, and is Past-chair of the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) Academic Credentialing Council (ACC). Dr. Townsend has authored or co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications, including 12 books and two workbooks. Her focus is on human rights education, and older adult learning, particularly transformative teaching and learning. Her current work is in academic mentorship and projects that link Prince Edward Island with rural Kenya.
Dr. Lori Weeks
In January, 2015, Lori joined Dalhousie University as an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing. She is also an Associate Research Scholar with the Healthy Populations Institute and has cross-appointments in the School of Health and Human Performance and the School of Occupational Therapy. Dr. Weeks is a Gerontologist who completed her Ph.D. in Adult Development and Aging and a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology at Virginia Tech in 1998. From 2001-2014, she was a faculty member at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) and taught a variety of courses on aging and family studies. Her primary research interests focus on care and support services for older adults and their caregivers, and factors affecting the health of seniors. She has current research focuses on transitional care, intergenerational programs, supports for older women experiencing intimate partner violence, housing for older adults, and the use of remote monitoring technology to support community-dwelling older adults.
Dr. Jessie Lees
Jessie was a medical laboratory technologist with a Fellowship in the Institute of Medical Laboratory Technology. Her first degree was an honours MA in mathematics which she taught in high school and, as a sessional lecturer, in university for twelve years. Dr. Jessie B. Lees graduated from the University of Toronto in 1993 with a Ph.D. in Curriculum Studies. Her work was concerned with the interplay between recently-created computer images and traditional visions of education. Over the next fifteen years, she undertook contractual research for bodies such as The Canadian School Boards Association, Calgary University, University of Toronto, PEI Minister of Education, York University and the PEI Literacy Alliance. She is Adjunct Professor at the UPEI Faculty of Education where she has taught graduate courses, including courses in Nunavut, and continues to serve on thesis committees.
Dr. William J. Montelpare
Professor William J. Montelpare, Ph.D., graduated from the University of Toronto with a Ph.D. in Community Health specializing in Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Exercise Science. His academic career began at Brock University in St. Catharines in 1986 as an assistant Professor in the Faculty of Physical Education & Recreation, where he served as the first Director of the Health Studies Program from 1991-1998. In July 1998, Dr. Montelpare moved to Lakehead University where he served as the Director of the School of Kinesiology, and later the Acting Dean of Graduate Studies, wherein he co-developed the first Masters of Public Health (MPH) program to be offered in Canada, and to be offered completely online. In 2010 he held a Research Chair as Professor of Allied Health Sciences at the University of Leeds (Leeds, UK). In July 2012 he returned to Canada to accept the Margaret and Wallace McCain Chair in Human Development and Health at the University of Prince Edward Island. As the Scientific Lead for the PEI SPOR: Primary and Integrated Healthcare Innovation Network, he is continuing to develop health and wellness opportunities through the Patient Centered Research Clinic at UPEI, which include but are not limited to studies on concussion in children and in older adults, epigenetics and human development from pre-conception through gestation to the first 2000 days, and applications of biostatistics and epidemiological methods for health research.
Women age 85 and older, “pioneers in aging”, are one of the least studied and fastest growing segments of the population in the industrialized world. Some women 85 and older are striving for aging-in-place in rural communities that lack the programs and services they need to maintain quality of life. In this research, I focused on gaining insights into the lived experiences of women age 85 and older living in rural places and what supports or limits their capabilities to age-in-place. The research is informed by critical social theory enhanced with a critical feminist gerontological perspective for examining socio-cultural-geographical-political forces that influence: how women 85 and older experience aging; the power relations that shape their experiences of aging; and the inequalities these older women face. In this qualitative study, I used four data collection methods for in-depth study with 10 participants living across PEI: 1) semi-structured face-to-face interviews; 2) a modified version of photovoice to nurture the voices of older women through photographs, dialogue and reflection, including two group meetings and a public exhibition of their selected photographs; 3) this researcher’s reflective journal and 4) a critical review of publicly-available, provincial government information. Information reviewed will be materials designed to inform older adults about programs and services available in the province, specifically related to issues raised by the study participants or government profiles of what aging-in-place means. NVivo 11 Pro was used to organize and code interviews and link participant photographs to their descriptions of what supported or limited their ability to age-in-place. The researcher and a supervisor coded all transcripts separately, then came together to compared and refit the coding tree that underpins the analysis, discussion, conclusions and recommendations. The results of this study demonstrated how photovoice not only enables older women to show and describe their lived realities, but demonstrated that their voices were heard and action was taken. This study’s findings illustrate that listening to the voices of older women presenting their own lived realities contributes to better understanding for designing community spaces, residential options, policies, and funding, that reflect their priorities for quality of life. The participatory method of Photovoice provided the ten study participants, the opportunity to have their voices heard and to share their suggestions and concerns with family, friends, academics and government policy makers.