How did last year’s lockdowns impact people 70 and over?

Merryn presented results of Te Arai’s Have Our Say letter-writing project last week at the Nelson Tasman Positive Ageing Expo. Merryn began by explaining the background of Phase 1 of the project (a media analysis) by noting that, “We were really interested as to whether our initial reflections about how older people were talked about in the media were borne out through a systematic analysis of media reports.”

The results of the analysis – a close reading of nearly 100 media articles published in March 2020 – revealed that almost all articles framed people over 70 as at risk. “Two-thirds framed people over 70 as passive, and only one third framed people over 70 as active.” There was also “lots of ‘othering’ talk like, ‘they’ need looking after.”

Merryn indicated that while these messages were well meaning, they were at odds with our research. “Some people found this patronising and felt that the media was lumping everyone’s experience into one category and ignoring the fact that some older people are very active in their communities.”

To find out more, download Merryn’s presentation (link above) and read our article published last month in the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

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