The wellbeing and social connectedness of older people in the Small Island Developing State (SIDS) of Maldives
Moosa, S. (2016). The wellbeing and social connectedness of older people in the Small Island Developing State (SIDS) of Maldives (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9967
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9967
Older people in small island developing states (SIDS) live within the context of a distinctive set of circumstances in terms of the unique geo-spatial characteristics of island nations, the typically small size and dispersed nature of populations, new and emerging environmental vulnerabilities, and associated threats to economic development. Such characteristics present distinctive challenges to the wellbeing of the increasing number of older people in such countries. In seeking to gain a better understanding of these challenges, this research examines the nature of the determinants of wellbeing for older people in SIDS through a case study of ageing and wellbeing in Maldives. Wellbeing is conceptualised as being constituted through success in critical life domains in a multidimensional model that includes the socio-cultural, geo-spatial and economic living environments of older people in Maldives. A capabilities approach to understanding wellbeing taking into account of the opportunities for older people to live a valued life - ‘to do and to be what they have reason to value’ – is adopted, and this informs the examination of older people’s experiences in the life domains of health, social connectedness, economic status, access to goods and services, and ability to conform with social norms and values. A survey instrument was developed in consultation with key individuals in the health and social service sector, along with a sample of older people themselves, and this was used to interview 393 older people (65 + years). The findings support the novel conceptualisation of the five life domains specific to this SIDS context. The most important determinants were health and social connectedness, each having a large impact on wellbeing, while economic status, ability to conform with social values and norms, and access to goods and services had small but significant correlations. The large contribution of social connectedness and the centrality of family in social connectedness points to the importance of collectivist social arrangements in Maldives, despite the geo-spatial challenges confronting a widely dispersed population. This approach to conceptualising wellbeing, and the indicators and measures that were developed provide a basis for further research and policy that extends beyond Maldives to other SIDS, and to international development partners.
University of Waikato
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