Determinants of healthy ageing

There are many factors that influence a person’s experience of ageing. These factors are called determinants.

The determinants of ageing can include material conditions such as financial resources and access to housing. They can also include social factors such as social connection, inclusion, and safety.

Figure 2: Determinants of active ageing, World Health Organisation

All of these factors play an important role in determining how well people age.

This is because they influence behaviours and how people feel. They also influence the kinds of support people need and the services they can access.

The determinants of healthy ageing also operate at several levels within our community. This is called a socioecological model.

Figure 3: Socioecological model and descriptions, Our Watch (adapted)

At each level different norms, values and beliefs influence perceptions about older people and ageing. These perceptions impact older people’s experiences.

We all hold beliefs about ageing that we might apply to ourselves (individual level). For example: “I’m too old to take up study.

We might also apply these beliefs to other people. They may also apply them to us (inter-personal level). For example: “You’re too old to take up study.”

The beliefs we hold also impact how older people are regarded and supported in our wider community (community level). They influence services, programs, laws and policies (systems level) and our broader culture (society level). For example: “Older people should not take up limited education places at the expense of younger people”, and “Training funding will only be available to people of working age.

At each level these beliefs, attitudes and practices can support older people to live and age well or to experience challenges and barriers to living and ageing well.

They operate at all levels and also influence and reinforce beliefs, attitudes and practices between levels.

Knowledge Question

For each level of the socioecological model (circle diagram, above) —
– What is one (1) norm, value or belief that might influence how an older person with HIV experiences aspects of their ageing?
– What is one (1) practice that might influence the ageing experience?
– Do your examples enable or limit how well an older person living with HIV might age?

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