The Health of Older Populations
Another long standing strand of research is focused on the health of older populations. Population geographers and demographers, along with epidemiologists and health geographers have played central roles. At the national scale, life expectancy in specific countries is an important consideration and bodies such as the World Health Organization have produced a number of publications outlining rates and variations in expectancy. Health status and morbidity of older people in given locales is another important concern, and studies have considered rates of many health conditions related to aging, as well as their relationships to older peoples' ethnicity, gender, affluence, and access to health and social care. For example, localized rates of age related conditions such as dementia, have been investigated.
Mirroring current interests in health geography, in recent years a growing interest in place effects on older peoples' health has emerged, often at the neighborhood and community level. This work is particularly important with respect to older people because, more than any other group, they rely on local social support and facilities. Certain research explores the impact of social 'composition' on health; that being the characteristics of people in given areas (including affluence, class, and family composition). Other research explores the impact of social 'context' of health; that being the resources available to people locally (such as primary care facilities, various local shops, and services). Meanwhile, most recently, collective social dimensions to health have been explored; specifically the role of social capital and the ways communities work together – or not – for common goals and gains for their older members.