Published Papers - Abstract 1007

Rich JL, Wright SL & Loxton D. Older rural women living with drought. Local Environment, 2018; :

Women’s experiences of drought are often made invisible particularly in terms of their long-term effects. Drought differs from other “natural disasters” in that droughts are, by definition, experienced over an extended time. This means those experiencing drought do so as they age, with elderly cohorts particularly vulnerable. As such, there is a need to better understand the longitudinal needs and experiences of women living with drought. This study investigates the experiences of drought for 15 Australian women aged over 70, over a period of 12 years. Longitudinal qualitative free-text comments written by the oldest cohort of women in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health were subject to a thematic analysis. Findings indicate that experiences of drought have a relationship to women’s ability to age in ways they may have hoped. Themes of Work and Physical activity, Connection to place, and, Service access were prominent in women’s comments. These results demonstrate that place is an important aspect in the experience of ageing, that work and physical activity often intensify during drought for elderly people who might otherwise be expecting to retire, and that drought presents particular challenges for older women in terms of access to services. This study highlights the complex interactions of living and ageing in drought for Australian women.