Resilience and Vulnerability in a Rapidly Changing North: The Integration of Physical, Biological and Social Processes (University of Alaska Fairbanks Campus)
Abraham Lincoln once said, "It's not the years in your life that count... It's the life in your years." Through his studies on the aging population of Alaskan Natives, University of Alaska, Fairbanks researcher Jordan Lewis, has found evidence that suggests successful aging relies on several key factors.
For his study, Lewis assessed how Alaskan Native perceptions of successful aging related to the accepted Western definition, which is a largely biomedical model with heavy emphasis on factors like avoiding disabilities and diseases. He interviewed 26 elders in six disparate communities about their definitions of aging well. The responses he received generally centered around four basic elements: spirituality, optimism and emotional well-being, community engagement and physical health. Some of the results conformed to his expectations, but he was surprised by others, such as the importance of a positive mental attitude.
His findings suggest that Alaskan Native elders who remain in their own communities and engage in active lifestyles age more successfully than those who either aren't engaged in the community, or are forced to relocate. In addition, the elders place little emphasis on avoiding infirmity.
Lewis's study has helped to shape policy recommendations for improving the delivery of health and social services to Alaskan elders and promoting successful aging. Chief among them: more facilities and programs to keep elders residing and involved in their home communities. The state, Native villages and health corporations have taken note of the findings.
Child's cremated remains are the oldest in northern North America.Research Areas: Polar, People & Society Locations: Alaska
Videos, blogs and more straight from remote field sitesResearch Areas: Polar, Education, People & Society, Biology, Earth & Environment Locations: Alaska