While the findings from the study are presented under the headings of the five key factors --- Mobility, Safety, Accessibility, Social Support, and Affordability --- there are many overlapping themes, highlighting the importance of considering all factors as a dynamic group.
There are concerns that these positive findings are at risk - the data highlight an overwhelming reliance on driving by older Australians. There is growing recognition of the danger of older drivers on themselves and others (Wang 2004) with some questioning whether or not older people should be allowed to drive. What happens if this were to occur? Little is understood about the impact of forfeiting a drivers licence (see Johnson 1999), with critically questions emerging in response to this research:
How will each liveability factor be impacted if their mobility is diminished?
How will older Australians remain engaged if they can no longer drive?
How do we avoid widespread social isolation of older Australians?
It is understood that many of the considerations outlined (above and in further detail under each factor heading) form part of the daily struggle for councils across Australia. It is hoped that this guide will create a shift in thinking where the dynamic nature of the liveability factors is understood, enabling decision-makers to aspire to address all five factors in their communities. With links to best practice, further reading and other resources, it is hoped that this guide will provide a holistic understanding that will ensure the limited time we have to address issues for ageing population is utilised with innovative policy and planning.
In the quest to ensure the liveability of communities for older Australians, it is essential that both the community and individual liveability factors identified from our research are considered in conjunction with each other. Older Australians want the control and independence to choose for themselves how engaged they are with their community. Primary attention therefore needs to be given to providing a wealth of opportunities that enable them to maximise their participation within their communities, in line with their personal preferences and their changing needs.