Older Australians: Structural barriers to learning in later life

Author(s): Gillian Boulton-Lewis, Rosemary Aird, Laurie Buys

Journal Name: Current Aging Science

Volume 9 , Issue 3 , 2016

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Background: Learning in older age is associated with benefits including increases in skills, social interactions, self-satisfaction, coping ability, enjoyment, and resilience to age-related changes in the brain. It is also a fundamental component of active ageing and if active ageing objectives are to be met for the growing ageing population, barriers to learning need to be understood and addressed. This study aimed at determining the degree that structural factors deter people aged 55 years and older from engaging in learning activities. Method: The data were obtained from survey (n=421) with a purposive sample of Australian Seniors aged 55 to 75+, and open ended follow up interviews (n=40). The survey responses to the 22 barriers to learning questions were ranked and quantified. The issues identified in the interviews shed further light on the survey data. Results: The analyses revealed that factors related to educational institutions as well as infrastructure were commonly cited as barriers to participation in learning. In particular expense of educational programmes (55.1%), long travelling time (45.6%) other transportation difficulties (38.9%), lack of interest in offered programmes ((36.4) and lack of information about courses (31.1%) were seen as barriers. The interviews revealed and confirmed five main barriers; money, offerings of interest/availability, travel/transport, information, computer skills and being employed. Conclusion: The findings should provide policy makers, institutions, organizations and government with a list of areas where changes might be made so as to improve older people’s opportunities for learning as they proceed through older age.

Keywords: Learning, older adults, Australia, barriers, age.

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Article Details

Year: 2016
Published on: 13 July, 2016
Page: [188 - 195]
Pages: 8
DOI: 10.2174/1874609809666160506122131
Price: $65

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