Perspectives of older women in the Netherlands: identifying motivators and barriers for healthy lifestyles and determinants of healthy aging

L D Sialino*, H A H Wijnhoven, S H van Oostrom, H S J Picavet, W M M Verschuren, M Visser, S Vader, L A Schaap

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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BACKGROUND: Women have a higher life expectancy than men but experience more years with physical disabilities in daily life at older ages, especially women with a migration background. This pinpoints older women as an important target group for strategies that stimulate healthy lifestyle, which benefits healthy aging. Our study investigates motivators and barriers for healthy lifestyles and perspectives on determinants of healthy aging of older women. This provides essential information for developing targeted strategies.

METHODS: Data was collected by semi-structured digital interviews from February till June 2021. Women aged 55 years and older living in the Netherlands (n = 34) with a native Dutch (n = 24), Turkish (n = 6) or Moroccan (n = 4) migration background were included. Two main subjects were investigated: (1) motivators and barriers on their current lifestyles regarding smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, diet and sleep and (2) perspectives on determinants of healthy aging. Interviews were analyzed using Krueger's framework.

RESULTS: Personal health was the most common motivator for a healthy lifestyle. In addition, peer pressure and being outdoors were specific motivators for physical activity. Bad weather conditions and personal dislike to be active were specific barriers. The social environment, personal preferences and personal belief to compensate with other healthy lifestyle behaviors were barriers for low alcohol consumption. Personal preferences (liking unhealthy food and not making time) were the main barriers for a healthy diet. Sleep was not perceived as a form of lifestyle behavior, but rather as a personal trait. Since there were no smokers, specific barriers were not mentioned. For Turkish-Dutch and Moroccan-Dutch women, additional barriers and motivators were culture and religion. These were strong motivators to abstain from alcohol consumption and smoking, but a barrier for a healthy diet. With regard to perspectives on determinants of healthy aging, positive views on aging and being physically active were perceived as most important. Women often wanted to increase their physical activity or healthy diet to stimulate healthy aging. Among Turkish-Dutch and Moroccan-Dutch women, healthy aging was also perceived as something in the hands of God.

CONCLUSIONS: Although motivators and barriers for a healthy lifestyle and perspectives on healthy aging vary for distinct lifestyles, personal health is a common motivator across all lifestyles. Having a migration background added culture and religion as distinct barriers and motivations. Strategies to improve lifestyle among older women should therefore have a tailored, culture sensitive approach (if applicable) for distinct lifestyle factors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number664
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2023


  • Aged
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Healthy Aging
  • Healthy Lifestyle
  • Humans
  • Netherlands


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