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How can we empower Australia’s ageing population?

Group portrait of three senior people chatting happily telling stories meeting for lunch on outdoor terrace

Today marks International Day of Older Persons and the theme is ‘The Journey to Age Equality’. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, by 2057, it’s projected that 22% of the Australian population will be aged 65 and over. Ensuring older people are able to actively participate in, and contribute to society is the only way we will be able to manage this huge social transformation. So, how do we do it?

Today’s day of recognition is marked by the United Nations, who said that the theme is about;

“aiming to empower older persons in all dimensions of development, including promoting their active participation in social, economic and political life as a means of ensuring their inclusiveness.”

Here at Mable, we believe that enabling control and choice is central to defending the rights of older people. In fact, it’s so important, it’s listed amongst the individual rights contained within the Government’s Charter of Aged Care Rights. For ageing Australians who might need support to continue to live their lives independently, maintaining control over how that support is received is crucial to ensuring they continue to live actively, participating in community life. As we reflect on today’s theme ‘The Journey to Age Equality’ we look at other ways we can ensure people are empowered as they age.

By tackling ageism in society one choice at a time

Allowing people to make choices about their life that may expose them to risk is a basic human right. It’s called dignity of risk, and it’s something that many of us take for granted. But for our older citizens, it’s denied all too often by well-meaning family members and professionals under the guise of protection. Many aged rights advocates believe that positively reframing how we view people who are ageing is the first step to ensuring equality. How do we begin? By ensuring that older people continue to enjoy the same life choices as younger.

By allowing communities to support communities

If you take a look at progressive global aged care models, a common thread begins to emerge; a desire for ageing citizens to live independently in their own homes, with a strong connection to community support.

Mable is an online platform that enables you to connect with independent care and support workers in your community and choose the people who share your interests and suit your needs best. It’s flexible and affordable, and importantly, it encourages people who may not have considered working in aged care to support others within their community with social and domestic assistance. Whether it’s a neighbour who helps out with the gardening or the student from down the road who provides transport from time to time, this type of community support is going to be crucial to managing the ‘aged care tsunami’.

Proactively managing ongoing health needs

While most people don’t consider ‘aged care’ until a crisis occurs (like a fall or the death of a loved one), a little bit of support before you think you need it could help to prevent a crisis from occurring. Preventative care is the kind of support that people might receive before they feel like you need aged care. It’s about getting support so that changes in lifestyle as we age do not lead to rapid deterioration in health and wellbeing.

Independent workers offering their services on the Mable platform are not just aged care workers. They’re nurses and allied health professionals like physiotherapists and OTs, or people offering social and domestic assistance. From thinking about taking small steps to stay active and encourage healthy ageing to regular support in managing an ongoing health concern, getting support early can have a huge impact on maintaining independent living.

Combating loneliness through community connections

Loneliness is a huge concern for older populations and is a big contributor when it comes to depression in older Australians. Lack of mobility, changing social dynamics through loss of loved ones, family who have moved away all make older people more susceptible to loneliness. As our ageing population grows, fostering community connections and simple companionship are going to be important aspects of caring for our older citizens. According to this study from Cambridge, loneliness negatively impacts cognitive function, so taking steps to combat social isolation is also likely to have a direct impact on health outcomes.

By ensuring a safety net for our ageing citizens

Residential aged care plays an important role in our society – however the overwhelming desire of people who are ageing is to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. As reported by the Conversation, those born in the 1920s and aged in their 90s today, have quietly become the fastest growing group of older people in Australia. Most of these will be living in the community and to support them, more consideration needs to be given to providing age-friendly environments, public facilities and transport. Access to affordable, flexible home care that can act as a ‘safety net’ as our support needs change will also be key to encouraging our older citizens to live healthy independent lives.

See what support is available in your community. Search Mable’s community of independent support workers today.

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