Aging in rural areas in Austria - On the interrelations of spatial aspects and the quality of life of today's older generation
The impact of demographic change and the increasing polarization into structurally strong and weak rural areas lead to new challenges for today's older generation in rural area in Austria in terms of growing old in a self-determined way: The quality of the activities of daily life is strongly affected by spatial aspects. Aside from factors related to natural environment above all factors related to the spatial structure are of great importance, such as the supply of infrastructure. This results in large differences in the quality of growing old in differently structured rural areas. Spatially relevant aspects manifest themselves to varying extents depending on the requirements of different groups of elderly people: While those who are still healthy, those who have a driving-licence and a stable economic background are hardly affected by spatial aspects, deficiencies in the supply of services primarily have an impact on those who are physically handicapped, not integrated into any social networks, who have little money and on those involved in securing the quality of life of the elderly such as family members and employees in mobile services of (social) medical care of the elderly. This article bases upon my doctoral thesis "Aging in rural areas - a spatial analysis" finished in 2005. It comprises the contents of the latest literature (2005) and the results of a solid field research in four rural Austrian micro-regions. The following statements are related to these micro-regions.