Aging, Resilience and Vulnerability of Selected Faculty and Staff (55 years old and above) in an Academic Community in the Philippines
Introduction. A demographic shift towards population aging is evident worldwide. This presents challenges particularly to low-income and middle-income countries like the Philippines. Understanding perceptions of aging, resilience, vulnerability, and gender identity will help prepare the health care system and social services in addressing the needs of the Filipino older population.
Objective. To describe gender identity, perceptions of active aging, successful aging, resilience, and vulnerability
among faculty and staff (working, retired) in an academic community in the Philippines.
Methods. Survey and focus group discussions were conducted among working and retired faculty and staff aged 55 years old and above.
Results, Analysis, and Discussion. Almost all respondents had the same gender identity as their biological sex. There were differences in the respondents’ perceptions of active aging and successful aging and in their sources of strength and worries. Compared with retired respondents more working respondents believed that active aging meant being strong and physically active or being involved in sports. Female respondents thought that being socially active in their community and church was indicative of active aging. In contrast, male respondents equated being physically healthy with active aging. More working respondents and females (than retired and male respondents) thought that successful aging meant participating in community-based activities. In terms of vulnerability, differences were noted in the respondents’ sources of strength and worries. In general, retired respondents and female respondents said they got their strength from their grandchildren and from their religion. In contrast, working respondents and male respondents relied on their families for strength. It was also noteworthy that more retired respondents did not have any old agerelated worries compared with working respondents. Female respondents worried about their families while male respondents worried about death. Subjective nuances of being an older working or a retired employee in an academic community surfaced in the FGDs. The importance of context was evident in shaping the informants’ perceptions of active aging and frailty, and in their sources of worries and happiness. Overall, this paper adds to the body of knowledge about aging in the Philippines by studying a group of older Filipinos in an academic community. It showed that particular aspects of Filipino culture such as gender roles, religion, and close family ties permeate one’s life until he or she reaches old age. The results can help academic communities in policy formulation and program development to ensure that their older employees — throughout their
life course — can adequately address vulnerability and resiliency needs to achieve active and successful aging.