What is preventative care and how could it help you?

Senior man exercise
Shot of a physiotherapist helping a senior man with weights

For most people, receiving aged care is not something that’s considered until there’s a crisis. But what if a little bit of support before you think you need it could help to prevent a crisis from occurring, while also promoting healthy ageing? Preventative care is gaining popularity in Australia, as the availability of flexible, affordable support in the home is removing the stigma around ‘aged care’.

For many people, “aged care” conjures up images of nursing homes, or frail, elderly patients who require round-the-clock support. But as options are changing for how ageing Australians can access flexible, independent support in their own homes, so too are perceptions.

Part of this is about control. Mable is an online platform where those seeking support can search for and directly hire people providing it. The person seeking support, or their family, can decide who to engage and what services they receive and when. Together with their chosen worker, they also decide what they pay.

In this way, it’s not all that dissimilar from someone engaging the services of a cleaner to come once a week. Or having a doctor make a home visit. 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.

So, what is preventative care?

Preventative care is the kind of support that you might receive before you 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.

It can take many forms, depending on the individual and their specific circumstances. When most people think of preventative care, it’s in the context of medical treatment, or regular visits to a doctor. While this is important, everything we have learned about ageing well tells us that taking care of ourselves goes far beyond just the physical.

Preventative care for physical health

In saying this, preventative care of course can be used as a way to promote general physical wellbeing.  It might be a support worker who helps to facilitate an exercise practice. Or a regular visit from a nurse or physio who can provide an ‘aged care checkup’, looking out for symptoms of common ageing-related illnesses. As we age, assistance with monitoring any existing chronic conditions can help to ensure that they are being effectively managed before a crisis occurs.

Brain health and emotional wellbeing

As reported in The Independent, intergenerational approaches to aged care are increasingly being used to tackle isolation in older communities. Wellbeing as we age is also about remaining connected and exercising our brain. Social support can take many forms; providing transport to take part in a favourite hobby, some company to see an exhibition at the art gallery, or someone to just pop in for a cuppa.

Help around the house

Assistance around the home can go beyond someone visiting to help with the cleaning once a week. An aged care professional can also watch out for any trip hazards to intervene before incidents become emergencies. They can also keep an eye out for any signs around the home that could be indicators of dementia.

As we get older, the motivation to prepare regular, healthy home cooked meals can wane. Engaging the services of someone to do the shopping once a week, or help with meal preparation can relieve the burden, and give family peace of mind that their loved one is eating properly.

Taking small steps to get the support you need can help you maintain the lifestyle that you want for longer. In this way, preventative care is just as much about looking to the future, as it is about ensuring wellbeing today.

Interested in finding out what support is available near you or your loved one? Search the profiles of independent workers in your area.