199513 "Successful Aging through the eyes of Alaska Natives." The health and wellbeing of Native elders in Bristol Bay, AK

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 4:30 PM

Jordan P. Lewis, MSW , Department of Psychology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK
Much of the literature addressing successful aging focuses on non-minority populations, establishing a broad definition of what it means to age successfully based on mainstream concepts and definitions of aging. Consequently, this mainstream definition of successful aging precludes localized and indigenous perspectives and runs the risk of assessing them inappropriately as aging less successfully than their non-minority counterparts.

Insight into how successful aging is defined by Indigenous people will inform the factors that determine whether or not villages are able to meet the needs of their elders and enable them to live their remaining years as they wish. This research explores the concept of successful aging from an Alaska Native perspective and the idea that the presence of elders contributes to the health of the community.

Alaska Natives indicate that that much of how one views whether or not they are aging successfully is based on personal responsibility and cognitions. Most elders state that reaching a certain age (e.g., 65) does not determine their status as an elder, bur rather the wisdom and knowledge they gain throughout life. A majority of participants indicated that they followed examples of aging well from their family members and other community members.

Learning Objectives:
Identify what Alaska Native elders consider vital to their successful in aging well in rural Alaska.

Keywords: Aging, Rural Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: MSW with a concentration gerontology. Current doctoral candidate focusing dissertation research in Native aging and rural health issues in SW Alaska.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

See more of: Rural Aging Issues
See more of: Gerontological Health