I chose to visit Chatswood, a Sydney suburb with a large Chinese population. A major observation was the gathering of elderly Chinese people on in an outdoor, astro-turfed environment, in the concourse which is central to shops, restaurants, a concert hall, theatre and library. In this small area was a large gathering of both young families and elderly people. I noticed that pairs of Chinese ladies or a male/female couples would be quietly sitting and watching over their grandchildren (presumably). This reinforced my understanding that the elderly have strong familial values, gaining fulfilment from interacting with their younger family members. A design opportunity in this context would be the provision of seating appropriate for less-mobile individuals, as people currently were seated on steps and the rough ground.
Grandparents sitting on the ground, in the same space as young mothers and small children. Seating here is inefficient, as it faces away from park area, limiting children supervision.
Elderly couple and child.
Elderly Chinese man navigating Chatswood’s streets. I noticed no elderly civilians made the walk out of the central area up the hill to a large park.
A medical centre frequented by the elderly. Wheelchair access and Chinese translations made it accessible for the elderly Chinese population.
I Interviewed my grandparents Walter and Liesel Gibian, who are an Austrian elderly couple living in Manly, Sydney. The interview was of relaxed ambience and took place in a hospital room as Liesel was recovering from surgery. Despite the situation, the interviewees were positive and talkative.
A major point that came from discussion was their sense of physical wellbeing, whereby a concern for them was keeping fit and active. To keep motivated, Walter and Liesel belong to fitness groups, such as aqua fitness, walking groups and personal training. This contributes to their physical wellbeing and establishes a sense of belonging to the community.
Walter and Leisel are a part of a big family, which is their “first priority” in their retired lifestyle. They feel very connected to their home and the environment, making efforts to visit the Blue Mountains every few weeks and immerse themselves in nature, which they believe is very important to their emotional wellbeing.
A photo I took of Liesel enjoying the fresh Blue Mountains air (Sept. 2016). Walking outdoors on uneven ground can be challenging with hip and knee probelms.
With their youngest grandchildren growing up and needing less attention, Liesel believes they have “entered a new phase”, and she believes it will be important to stay busy and motivated. As a retired artist, she aspires to create more art, “as an act of meditation” to distract her from worrying. This point illuminates the issue of anxiety in elderly people, which is experienced by both Walter and Liesel due to their fear of losing friends or their partner.
Interestingly, Walter stated that he finds technological innovations “an exciting challenge”, and has embraced the occurrence of smart phones and the digital age. He is updated on the most recent versions of smartphone, computer and photographic technology, showing that despite age his mind is sharp and willing to adapt to change.
Conclusively, it seems that Walter and Liesel face some physical and psychological challenges, yet for the most part enjoy a strong sense of wellbeing in relation to the Quality of Life Profile.