Healthy Ageing

North East Healthy Communities’ focus on Healthy Ageing aims to better support the needs of our local population.

The number of older people in our community is growing larger. While some people will experience disability, the majority of older people report their health as good. Healthy ageing is about supporting older people to age well in their community. It is widely known that there are a number of strategies that can contribute to achieving this including:

  • Providing opportunities for older people to stay engaged, continue to learn and contribute to their community
  • Maintaining and growing friendships
  • Minimising the disability threshold so people can access community resources and opportunities
  • Encouraging healthy behaviours like regular exercise and good food
  • Supporting older people to exercise choice and control.

Of particular concern are those people in our community experiencing social and economic disadvantage, vulnerability and inequality. These older people are more likely to experience poor health, and are less likely to access services.

“With the right policies and services in place, population ageing can be viewed as a rich new opportunity for both individuals and societies.” (WHO)

Why target healthy ageing?

The NEPCP 50+ Data Stories (available on our Resources page) provides locale specific data on our ageing population and the expected increased demand for health services associated with an ageing population. Using this research, we have identified the main issues facing older citizens in each of the three local government areas:

Banyule

  • Banyule’s population is projected to age over the coming decade.
  • Banyule is ranked tenth in Victoria for the number of people living with dementia and this is not predicted to change greatly; 13th in 2030, and 12th in 2050.

Darebin

  • The proportion of the population in Darebin aged 50 years and over is not projected to increase in the coming decade, although the number of older people will increase.
  • Like Banyule, Darebin has high rates of dementia (ranked 8th in Victoria). It also has high rates of osteoporosis.

Nillumbik

  • Nillumbik’s population is projected to age over the next decade, with the number of people aged over 50 growing from 34% to 39%. (This includes a doubling of the population aged from 75-84, and an increase by two thirds of the population aged 70-74.
  • Dementia will be one of the most significant health issues for the older residents of Nillumbik, with a projected three-fold increase in the number of people living with dementia between 2010 and 2050.

What are the priorities?

There are a broad range of issues that could support older people age well, however, three priority areas were established at our Healthy Ageing Forum held early this year:

• social isolation and loneliness;

• older carers; and

• transport.

Social isolation and loneliness is a significant issue for older people and can have a detrimental impact on a person’s health. One study cites that being lonely is a bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes per day (Holt-Lunstad, 2010).

Fostering relationships in later life is an important protective factor against social isolation and loneliness. Consultations conducted by the Commissioner for Senior Victorians (2016) and the City of Darebin (2018) found the strongest theme reported by older people was the fear of becoming socially isolated and lonely. A full summary of facts, innovative examples and useful links is available here and on our Resources page.

Older carers are part of just over 12% of Victoria’s population who are providing care for an ageing spouse, parent, friend or relative. It is well known that carers have the lowest wellbeing of any population sub group and are highly at risk of depression, social isolation and chronic health conditions.

The demands of caring can leave little time for other family members or friends and many carers miss out on important life opportunities. When carers are supported, they are more likely to sustain their caring role and have better health outcomes. A full summary of facts, innovative examples and useful links is available here and on our Resources page.

Transport is an essential facilitator in supporting people to continue to engage in community life. No longer driving and giving up the car are important losses of independence. The research shows a clear link between transport options, social connection, community connectedness and psychological wellbeing (Commissioner for Senior Victorians, 2016).

As people age, their mobility may decline but their need for transport does not. Lack of access to transport due to problems of affordability, safety, availability, convenience, lack of confidence and information, and appropriateness of the type transport available can act as a barrier to older people’s community participation (COTA Tasmania, 2013). A full summary of facts, innovative examples and useful links is available here and on our Resources page.

Where are we focusing our work?

In the 2018/19 financial year North East Healthy Communities will support member organisations to work with their communities to co-design ideas to reduce social isolation and loneliness for older people.

We will also continue to support member organisations explore the themes of older carers and transport, developing an evidence base and exploring project ideas.

Contact us

Meg Henderson

Tel: 9450 2645

North East Healthy Communities acknowledges the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional custodians of the land we work on. We pay our respects to their Elders both past and present and acknowledge all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first people of this nation.