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Special Issue "New Advances in Aging"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Aging".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2023 | Viewed by 19476

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Sara Santini
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Guest Editor
IRCCS INRCA—National Institute of Health and Science on Ageing, Centre for Socio-Economic Research on Ageing, Via S. Margherita 5, 60124 Ancona, Italy
Interests: informal caregivers; active and healthy aging; intergenerational relationships; use of ICT in elderly care and active aging programs
Dr. Cristina Gagliardi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
IRCCS INRCA National Institute of Health and Science on Ageing, Centre for Socio-Economic Research on Ageing (CRESI)-Laboratory on longevity and relations with the third sector, Via della Montagnola 81, 60123 Ancona, Italy
Interests: non-profit organizations; volunteering; social enterprise and active aging; social psychology of aging
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Casanova Georgia
E-Mail
Guest Editor
1. IRCSS INRCA National Institute of Health & Science on Ageing, Centre for Socio-Economic Research on Ageing, 60124 Ancona, Italy
2. Research Institute on Social Welfare Policy (Polibienstar), University of Valencia, 46022 Valencia, Spain
Interests: long-term care; socioeconomic inequalities; social inclusion; social innovation; quality of services

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health intends to publish a monographic issue on “New Advances in Aging”. Sara Santini, Cristina Gagliardi, and Georgia Casanova, senior researchers at INRCA–IRCCS, Italy’s National Institute of Health and Science on Ageing, Centre for Socio-Economic Research on Ageing) will serve as guest editors. 

We are witnesses of the global population aging that is questioning healthcare and welfare systems’ as well as family ecosystems’ sustainability from a psychological, social, medical, and economic perspective. This scenario has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic, in fact, on the one side, has brought to light the weaknesses of many healthcare systems. On the other side, the COVID-19 crisis has triggered social and technological innovation to counteract the direct and indirect effects of the pandemic on the older population and on their formal (e.g., doctors and nurses) and informal caregivers, mainly family members. The coronavirus infection hits especially hard older people with poor health and multiple chronic diseases who, if infected, are at risk of rapid physical health deterioration up to death. Moreover, older people with poor mental health and attending daycare facilities are also experiencing a decrease of cognitive capabilities and an increase of symptoms attributable to depression due to the interruption of the health interventions and services as a consequence of the stay-at-home and physical distancing policies adopted by all governments around the world (to different extents and at different times) for the containment of the virus. Furthermore, older adults who were active in their family and in the community have been limited by the lockdown to a detriment of their health and well-being.

In light of the above, scholars are called to contribute to advance knowledge and practice about aging to address the recent changes in healthcare and social services. There is a need for new psychosocial theories and research protocols which can help to read and interpret the aging phenomenon in a new society and for innovative solutions and evidence-based interventions to improve long-term care, promote healthy and active aging, and support informal caregivers. 

To this purpose, this Special Issue aims at collecting high-quality contributions looking at the aging process from a multidisciplinary and life-course perspective and focusing on different typologies of older people (e.g., active older adults and older people with long-term care needs) in their living environment (e.g., home, care facilities, daycare center, community).

Cross-national comparisons providing an updated overview of the state of the art in this respect will be particularly welcome, with a view of covering, in particular (but not exclusively), topics such as those listed here and not exclusively linked to the COVID-19 pandemic:

•    Advancements in psychosocial theory on aging and:
-    physical and mental health
-    social connections
-    family and intergenerational relationships
-    life-course and gender perspective
•    Social and technological innovation in long-term care (LTC) including:
-    strategies for bettering older people’s and family caregivers’ quality of life and innovative community care policies and services
-    measures for contrasting social isolation and loneliness
-    strategies for counteracting the undirected effects of LTC on older people’s family from an economic and wellbeing perspective
-    assistive technologies and ICTs targeting older people with chronic diseases, dementia, and long-term care needs 
-    support services for family of older people with dementia
•    Advancements in knowledge and practice on intergenerational caregiving
-    the role and challenges of home care providers in elderly care 
-    informal caregivers of older people 
•    Innovation in advancing the healthy and active aging paradigm and preventing early physical and mental decline:
-    new strategies and services for supporting older adults remain healthy and active during the COVID-19 pandemic
-    digital literacy and older people’s access to online healthcare services and information
-    social farming as a means od boosting active aging
-    art-based measures and practices (run in person or online) for promoting older people’s wellbeing

All works will be peer reviewed by experts of the specific field of interest. The deadline for delivery is 31 October 2021.

Dr. Sara Santini
Dr. Cristina Gagliardi
Dr. Casanova Georgia
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • psychosocial theory on aging
  • social and technological innovation
  • intergenerational relationships
  • long-term care
  • healthy and active aging

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Article
How Does Family Intergenerational Relationships Affect the Life Satisfaction of Middle-Aged and Elderly Parents in Urban Only-Child Families in Chengdu, China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(14), 8704; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19148704 - 17 Jul 2022
Viewed by 765
Abstract
Over the past 40 years, the implementation of the family planning policy in China has led to the creation of many only-child families. In the process of modernization and urbanization, it is critical to focus on the intergenerational relationships in only-child families and [...] Read more.
Over the past 40 years, the implementation of the family planning policy in China has led to the creation of many only-child families. In the process of modernization and urbanization, it is critical to focus on the intergenerational relationships in only-child families and their associational mechanism on the life satisfaction of middle-aged and elderly parents, which has crucial implications for them staying active and healthy aging. Using the survey data from Chengdu, China, this study analyzed the characteristics of only-child parents’ life satisfaction and family intergenerational relationships, and explored the associational mechanism of family intergenerational relationships on only-child parents’ life satisfaction in urban families, as well as the possible moderating role of gender. The results indicate that there are gender differences in the life satisfaction of only-child parents in urban families, and men are more satisfied than women. Moreover, parents of sons and daughters differ in life satisfaction from the dual-gender perspective. Parents of daughters are likely to have higher life satisfaction, especially mothers. The only-child families have not moved toward nucleation in urban families, and intergenerational members maintain close contact and provide frequent mutual support to achieve individual and family development. There are significant gender differences in structural, associational, affectual, and functional solidarity among only-child. This study confirms that there are differences in the associational mechanism of family intergenerational relationships on life satisfaction in different dimensions. Affectual solidarity is the most influential factor of life satisfaction. In terms of normative and consensual solidarity, gender plays a moderating role. For men, normative and consensual solidarity is beneficial for improving life satisfaction, but it has an insignificant effect on women. The effects of structural solidarity, association solidarity, and functional solidarity are not significant. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Advances in Aging)
Article
Quality of Life of Older Persons: The Role and Challenges of Social Services Providers
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(14), 8573; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19148573 - 14 Jul 2022
Viewed by 805
Abstract
Considering the growing number of older persons, ensuring the quality of life of them, as well as the social services designed for this population category, has become more and more important. Especially in the case of dependent older persons, social services are essential [...] Read more.
Considering the growing number of older persons, ensuring the quality of life of them, as well as the social services designed for this population category, has become more and more important. Especially in the case of dependent older persons, social services are essential components, as they contribute to a better quality of life. The aim of this paper was to examine the perspectives of social services providers for older persons with respect to their role and the challenges encountered in ensuring the quality of life of older beneficiaries. In order to answer our objectives, we employed a qualitative methodology, using the focus group method to collect information from social services providers (both residential and home care). Multiple factors are related to a good quality of life in old age: some are related to individual characteristics, while others are related to the provision of services. The provision of quality social services that adequately respond to the needs of beneficiaries contributes to increasing the degree of independence and maintaining the physical and mental health of dependent older persons. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Advances in Aging)
Article
Adapting a Dementia Care Management Intervention for Regional Implementation: A Theory-Based Participatory Barrier Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(9), 5478; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19095478 - 30 Apr 2022
Viewed by 1093
Abstract
Dementia is a leading cause of disability and dependency in older people worldwide. As the number of people affected increases, so does the need for innovative care models. Dementia care management (DCM) is an empirically validated approach for improving the care and quality [...] Read more.
Dementia is a leading cause of disability and dependency in older people worldwide. As the number of people affected increases, so does the need for innovative care models. Dementia care management (DCM) is an empirically validated approach for improving the care and quality of life for people with dementia (PwD) and caregivers. The aim of this study is to investigate the influencing factors and critical pathways for the implementation of a regionally adapted DCM standard in the existing primary care structures in the German region of Siegen-Wittgenstein (SW). Utilizing participatory research methods, five local health care experts as co-researchers conducted N = 13 semi-structured interviews with 22 local professionals and one caregiver as peer reviewers. Data collection and analysis were based on the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR). Our results show that among the most mentioned influencing factors, three CFIR constructs can be identified as both barriers and facilitators: Patients’ needs and resources, Relative advantage, and Cosmopolitanism. The insufficient involvement of relevant stakeholders is the major barrier and the comprehensive consideration of patient needs through dementia care managers is the strongest facilitating factor. The study underlines the vital role of barrier analysis in site-specific DCM implementation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Advances in Aging)
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Article
Needs and Needs Communication of Nursing Home Residents with Depressive Symptoms: A Qualitative Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(6), 3678; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19063678 - 19 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1266
Abstract
Nursing home residents are affected by depressive symptoms more often than elders living at home. There is a correlation between unmet needs and depression in nursing home residents, while met needs positively correlate with greater satisfaction and well-being. The study aims to examine [...] Read more.
Nursing home residents are affected by depressive symptoms more often than elders living at home. There is a correlation between unmet needs and depression in nursing home residents, while met needs positively correlate with greater satisfaction and well-being. The study aims to examine the needs of nursing home residents with depressive symptoms and the communication of those needs, as no previous study has explicitly addressed the needs of this group of people and the way they are communicated. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 11 residents of three nursing homes and analyzed them using content-structuring content analysis. The residents reported diverse needs, assigned to 12 categories. In addition, barriers such as health impairments prevented the fulfillment of needs. As to the communication of needs, various interlocutors, facilitators, and barriers were identified. The findings reveal that residents can express their needs and are more likely to do so if the interlocutors are patient and take them seriously. However, lack of confidants, missing or non-functioning communication tools, impatience and perceived lack of understanding on the part of caregivers, and residents’ insecurities limit communication of needs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Advances in Aging)
Article
Difficulties and Needs of Adolescent Young Caregivers of Grandparents in Italy and Slovenia: A Concurrent Mixed-Methods Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(5), 2837; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19052837 - 28 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 953
Abstract
Many adolescent young caregivers (AYCs) care for a grandparent (GrP) with chronic disease, especially in countries with no or low developed long-term care systems and/or level of awareness of and policy responses to young caregivers. This mixed-methods study aimed at shedding light on [...] Read more.
Many adolescent young caregivers (AYCs) care for a grandparent (GrP) with chronic disease, especially in countries with no or low developed long-term care systems and/or level of awareness of and policy responses to young caregivers. This mixed-methods study aimed at shedding light on the needs and difficulties faced by a sample of 162 adolescents aged 15–17, caring for GrPs, living in Italy (87) and Slovenia (75), respectively. A multiple linear regression model was built for the quantitative data. Qualitative data were content analysed using an open coding process. Italian and Slovenian respondents reported a moderate amount of caring activity and relatively high positive caregiving outcomes. Nevertheless, one out of three AYCs reported health problems due to their caring responsibilities. Compared to their Italian counterparts, Slovenian respondents were supported to a lesser extent by public services. Italian respondents faced communicative and practical problems; Slovenian AYCs experienced mainly emotional discomfort. AYCs from both countries requested emotional and practical support from formal services and family networks. Further, Slovenian AYCs requested emotional support and a personalized learning plan from schoolteachers. Support measures aimed at training AYCs of GrPs on geriatric care are recommended to address specific issues related to ageing and long-term care needs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Advances in Aging)
Article
Active Ageing in Italy: An Evidence-Based Model to Provide Recommendations for Policy Making and Policy Implementation
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(5), 2746; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19052746 - 26 Feb 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1184
Abstract
In ageing societies, active ageing (AA) has been recognized as a useful conceptual tool due to its holistic approach to social issues and recognised benefits from it at multiple levels (micro, meso and macro) for addressing demographic challenges. However, one of the main [...] Read more.
In ageing societies, active ageing (AA) has been recognized as a useful conceptual tool due to its holistic approach to social issues and recognised benefits from it at multiple levels (micro, meso and macro) for addressing demographic challenges. However, one of the main problems identified in relation to AA, is to turn into practice, at the policy making level, the many positive aspects that it promises at the conceptual level, as is demonstrated by the available evidence based on experiences carried out in some European countries. As an advancement in this field, through an original research experience carried out in Italy between 2019 and 2021, this study for the first time provides a model for producing recommendations for policy making and policy implementation in the field of AA, by managing the main problematic aspects related to the operationalization, at the policy making level, of the AA concept, with the potential for replication in other countries. The main challenges were identified, as well as the way to deal with them through a model, for a proper operationalization of the AA concept, based, among other aspects, on a solid international framework concerning this matter, on a mainstreaming ageing approach (at the public policy level) and on a wide stakeholder participation through co-decisional tools. A multi-level (national-regional-local) perspective was adopted to consider cultural and geographical diversity, among other challenges. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Advances in Aging)
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Article
Active Ageing: The Need to Address Sub-National Diversity. An Evidence-Based Approach for Italy
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(24), 13319; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182413319 - 17 Dec 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1882
Abstract
While active ageing has emerged as a main strategy to address the challenges of population ageing in Europe, recent research has stressed the need to increase knowledge on within-country differences to promote active ageing through appropriate policy responses. This article draws on the [...] Read more.
While active ageing has emerged as a main strategy to address the challenges of population ageing in Europe, recent research has stressed the need to increase knowledge on within-country differences to promote active ageing through appropriate policy responses. This article draws on the Active Ageing Index (AAI) to capture recent trends in active ageing in Italy with a focus on sub-national diversity. To this end, we compute AAI breakdowns by region separately for men and women for four different years: 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2018. Then, we use linear regression to describe the geographical and sex-specific patterns of change in the AAI over the considered period. The results demonstrate the diversity of regional outcomes and trends in the active ageing of Italian men and women, indicating that the widening geographic gap deserves further consideration by national and regional authorities in designing and implementing active ageing policies. By showing the persistence of disparities in the value of the indicator to the disadvantage of women, results also suggest the need to further integrate both the gender dimension and the life-cycle perspective into active ageing strategies. This article provides an example of how the AAI can be used as a practical tool by policy makers to monitor active ageing trends and outcomes at the sub-national level, and to identify target areas that require further action. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Advances in Aging)
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Article
Societal Age Stereotypes in the U.S. and U.K. from a Media Database of 1.1 Billion Words
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(16), 8822; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168822 - 21 Aug 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 3070
Abstract
Recently, 194 World Health Organization member states called on the international organization to develop a global campaign to combat ageism, citing its alarming ubiquity, insidious threat to health, and prevalence in the media. Existing media studies of age stereotypes have mostly been single-sourced. [...] Read more.
Recently, 194 World Health Organization member states called on the international organization to develop a global campaign to combat ageism, citing its alarming ubiquity, insidious threat to health, and prevalence in the media. Existing media studies of age stereotypes have mostly been single-sourced. This study harnesses a 1.1-billion-word media database comprising the British National Corpus and Corpus of Contemporary American English—with genres including spoken/television, fiction, magazines, newspapers—to provide a comprehensive view of ageism in the United Kingdom and United States. The US and UK were chosen as they are home to the largest media conglomerates with tremendous power to shape public opinion. The most commonly used synonym of older adults was identified, and its most frequently used descriptors were analyzed for valence. Such computational linguistics techniques represent a new advance in studying aging narratives. The key finding is consistent, though no less alarming: Negative descriptions of older adults outnumber positive ones by six times. Negative descriptions tend to be physical, while positive ones tend to be behavioral. Magazines contain the highest levels of ageism, followed by the spoken genre, newspapers, and fiction. Findings underscore the need to increase public awareness of ageism and lay the groundwork to design targeted societal campaigns to tackle ageism—one of our generation’s most pernicious threats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Advances in Aging)
Article
The Value of Active Arts Engagement on Health and Well-Being of Older Adults: A Nation-Wide Participatory Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(15), 8222; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18158222 - 03 Aug 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 4170
Abstract
An emerging body of research indicates that active arts engagement can enhance older adults’ health and experienced well-being, but scientific evidence is still fragmented. There is a research gap in understanding arts engagement grounded in a multidimensional conceptualization of the value of health [...] Read more.
An emerging body of research indicates that active arts engagement can enhance older adults’ health and experienced well-being, but scientific evidence is still fragmented. There is a research gap in understanding arts engagement grounded in a multidimensional conceptualization of the value of health and well-being from older participants’ perspectives. This Dutch nation-wide study aimed to explore the broader value of arts engagement on older people’s perceived health and well-being in 18 participatory arts-based projects (dance, music, singing, theater, visual arts, video, and spoken word) for community-dwelling older adults and those living in long term care facilities. In this study, we followed a participatory design with narrative- and arts-based inquiry. We gathered micro-narratives from older people and their (in)formal caregivers (n = 470). The findings demonstrate that arts engagement, according to participants, resulted in (1) positive feelings, (2) personal and artistic growth, and (3) increased meaningful social interactions. This study concludes that art-based practices promote older people’s experienced well-being and increase the quality of life of older people. This study emphasizes the intrinsic value of arts engagement and has implications for research and evaluation of arts engagement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Advances in Aging)
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Study Protocol
A Single-Case Design Investigation for Measuring the Efficacy of Gestalt Therapy to Treat Depression in Older Adults with Dementia in Italy and in Mexico: A Research Protocol
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(6), 3260; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19063260 - 10 Mar 2022
Viewed by 1606
Abstract
Psychotherapy is one of the evidence-based clinical interventions for the treatment of depression in older adults with dementia. Randomised controlled trials are often the first methodological choice to gain evidence, yet they are not applicable to a wide range of humanistic psychotherapies. Amongst [...] Read more.
Psychotherapy is one of the evidence-based clinical interventions for the treatment of depression in older adults with dementia. Randomised controlled trials are often the first methodological choice to gain evidence, yet they are not applicable to a wide range of humanistic psychotherapies. Amongst all, the efficacy of the Gestalt therapy (GT) is under-investigated. The purpose of this paper is to present a research protocol, aiming to assess the effects of a GT-based intervention on people with dementia (PWD) and indirect influence on their family carers. The study implements the single-case experimental design with time series analysis that will be carried out in Italy and Mexico. Six people in each country, who received a diagnosis of dementia and present depressive symptoms, will be recruited. Eight or more GT sessions will be provided, whose fidelity will be assessed by the GT fidelity scale. Quantitative outcome measures are foreseen for monitoring participants’ depression, anxiety, quality of life, loneliness, carers’ burden, and the caregiving dyad mutuality at baseline and follow-up. The advantages and limitations of the research design are considered. If GT will effectively result in the treatment of depression in PWD, it could enrich the range of evidence-based interventions provided by healthcare services. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Advances in Aging)
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