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Age-Friendly Rural Communities: Conceptualizing ‘Best-Fit’*

  • Norah Keating (a1), Jacquie Eales (a1) and Judith E. Phillips (a2)


The literature on age-friendly communities is predominantly focused on a model of urban aging, thereby failing to reflect the diversity of rural communities. In this article, we address that gap by focusing on the concept of community in a rural context and asking what makes a good fit between older people and their environment. We do this through (a) autobiographical and biographical accounts of two very different geographical living environments: bucolic and bypassed communities; and through (b) analysis of the different needs and resources of two groups of people: marginalized and community-active older adults, who live in those two different rural communities. We argue that the original 2007 World Health Organization definition of age friendly should be reconceptualized to explicitly accommodate different community needs and resources, to be more inclusive as well as more interactive and dynamic, incorporating changes that have occurred over time in people and place.

La littérature sur les communautés amies des aînés est axé principalement sur un modèle de vieillissement en un milieu urbain, en omettant ainsi de refléter la diversité des communautés rurales. Dans cet article, nous abordons cette lacune en se concentrant sur la notion de la communauté dans un contexte rural et en demandant ce qui crée une bonne adaptation entre les personnes âgées et leur environnement. Cela se fait grace à (1) comptes autobiographiques et biographiqus de deux environnements géographiques très différents de subsistence: les communautés bucoliques et contournées, et à (b) l’analyse des besoins et des ressources différents des deux groupes de personnes: les personnes âgées marginalisées et actives qui vivent dans ces deux communautés rurales différentes. Nous affirmons que la définition originale de 2007 de l’Organisation mondiale de la Santé (OMS), de “amie des aînés” doit être repensée pour tenir compte des besoins et ressources explicitement différents de la communauté, pour être plus inclusive ainsi que plus interactive et dynamique en intégrant les changements qui sont survenus au fil du temps chez les personnes et les lieux.


Corresponding author

Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to / La correspondance et les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être addressees: Norah Keating, Ph.D. Department of Human Ecology 3-02 Human Ecology Building University of Alberta Edmonton, AB T6G 2N1 (


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The authors gratefully acknowledge the joint funding received from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (grant CIHR CUK 94355, Connectivity of Older Adults in Rural Communities: Health in Context) and the UK New Dynamics of Ageing Programme (RES-353-25-0011, Grey and Pleasant Land?: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of the Connectivity of Older People in Rural Civic Society), as part of the Canada-UK Aging Initiative, which facilitated the transnational collaboration needed to write this article. The data were collected as part of a program of research funded by Veterans Affairs Canada (PWGSC Contract #51019-017032/001/HAL, Caring Contexts of Rural Seniors).



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Canadian Journal on Aging / La Revue canadienne du vieillissement
  • ISSN: 0714-9808
  • EISSN: 1710-1107
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-on-aging-la-revue-canadienne-du-vieillissement
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