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:
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)
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:
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 in 2019:
• social isolation and loneliness;
• older carers; 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.
In the 2019/20 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.
Click here to read the latest updates on our project.
If you would like more information regarding healthy ageing, please email us.
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.