The final section summarises the report and lists some key recommendations for future research.
Strengthening a heterogenous approach to health and ageing/welfare policies
One of the main aims in this study has been to establish a better understanding of the Nordic senior population in terms of different aspects of active and healthy ageing. Indicators measuring health and wellbeing, socio-economic status, social activity, engagement, and participation were examined to explore what characterises older adults in the five Nordic countries. This knowledge, as well as the following recommendations, are intended to serve national and local stakeholders who work with improving the conditions for age-friendly environments and active and healthy ageing programming in their communities, while also seeking to enhance Nordic cross-collaboration and practices.
More specifically, policy makers need more information to make informed decisions to promote active and healthy ageing. Heterogenous and intersectional perspectives can contribute to a significant shift away from a one-size-fits-all paradigm to more holistic categorisations that meet the diverse needs of older population groups in the Nordic countries. There is a great deal of potential in the availability and quality of statistical indicators, but this project has identified the need for improving and strengthening comparisons, and further enhancing inclusive knowledge exchange across the Nordic countries so that health inequalities and their intersections can be properly understood. This suggests that situating heterogenous perspectives as they relate to active and healthy ageing within both empirical measures and in the Nordic policy context, still has a way to go. As such, there are benefits to adopting intersectional and diverse perspectives, where mixed-methods approaches might be more beneficial than quantitative approaches alone. Based on this report’s observations, we present the following actions and take-aways:
Establish dialogue and roundtable networks with national and local stakeholders focusing on intersectionality and heterogenous perspectives in active and healthy ageing. This could for, instance, complement or be integrated into existing efforts within the Nordic Age-Friendly City Network.
Enhance vertical and horizontal knowledge-exchange and collaboration on active and healthy ageing applicability, identify challenges, and explore current understandings of local and regional approaches.
Strengthen intersectionality research within the context of active and healthy ageing inequalities through Nordic guidelines. This may include considerations of other demographic characteristics such as socioeconomic status or ethnic origin in the indicators to obtain a better picture of these subgroups of the older populations in the Nordic countries.
Consideration of the terms intersectionality and heterogeneity in a Nordic context and what usefulness the application of these has for the region to become socially sustainable, and how, as a concept, they can help identify the diversity of needs so that active and healthy ageing can be practically implemented in local and national policy frameworks.
Improve access to comparable data in the Nordic countries and support the creation of a Nordic working group formed by municipalities and regions in order to steer objectives toward a coordinated system of indicators.
Adopt mixed-method approaches to active and healthy ageing research and policy design, such as targeted surveys, which can be beneficial to complement quantitative approaches.
Mobilise experts in developing common indicators within the Nordic Council of Ministers and identify additional subjective indicators related to active and healthy ageing. These could be in closer alignment with the indicators targeting Social Sustainability in Our Vision 2030.