Good Health Adds Life to Years10 April 2012
Every year World Health Day is celebrated on 7 April and this year The World Health Organization is calling for a concerted and co-ordinated effort by governments, business and the community to act on the issue of global ageing under the theme – “Good Health Adds Life to Years”.
The focus is how good health throughout life can help older men and women lead full and productive lives and be a resource for their families and communities. Ageing concerns each and every one of us – whether young or old, male or female, rich or poor – no matter where we live.
The World Health Organisation’s World Health Day 2012 involves a call for action for governments to ensure people reach old age in the best possible health. In the next few years, for the first time, there will be more people in the world aged over 60 years than children aged under five.
Australians Living Longer
Australians are living longer than ever before – up to 25 years longer compared to a century ago – and it’s important that they can expect to have access to the care and support they both need and deserve. The health issues associated with our ageing population will put unprecedented economic and social demands on all countries, with the impact being felt hardest in disadvantaged communities.
Given that ageing is inevitable for all of us, what can we do today to ensure we live longer and healthier lives? Sue Murray, Executive Director of The George Foundation at The George Institute for Global Health explains that the key to ageing well is good health throughout life:
“Research has shown that how well we age depends on the lifestyle decisions we make today. By taking steps now we can help prevent suffering from chronic disease and disability in our old age. We can then look forward to leading full and active lives as older members of our families and communities”.
There are many things we can do to add life to years including:
- Stop smoking
- Eat a healthy diet rich in nutrients, vitamins, minerals and low in fat, salt and sugar
- Exercise regularly for better bone density, greater muscle mass and positive mental health
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Ensure adequate levels of vitamin D are essential for good bone health and to prevent falls, preferably from food (eg oily fish) and sun exposure (10 minutes once or twice a day without sunscreen taking care not to burn) or failing that, supplements.
Source – British Medical Journal – March 2012
Conversation on Ageing Report
The Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, today released the Council on the Ageing’s Summary Report on the Conversations on Ageing. The conversations are an “at the coalface” look at what Australians fear the most about ageing and what they expect from a reformed aged care system.
COTA gleaned the information from 31 conversations held around the nation with more than 3,400 people taking part. “The conversations point to an industry in crisis. The overwhelming message is that older Australians are not getting the quality of care and support that they deserve from the current system,” Mr Butler said.
“For many older Australians, the price they pay to enter care is based on how much money they have in their pockets, rather than a reflection of the true cost of care and value for money. “Accommodation bonds paid to get into residential care cost an average of $264,000 but can be more than $1 million and are usually raised through a forced firesale of the family home at a time of crisis. “As I have travelled around the country attending these conversations, older Australians have been telling me that they are prepared to contribute more to the cost of their care, but only if they get a better deal with more transparency, a higher level of quality and choice, as well as access to more services in the home.”
The COTA conversations reveal that older Australians who enter residential care expect to be looked after by a skilled and dedicated workforce who are able to spend quality time with them rather than being rushed off their feet. Mr Butler said that a telling revelation from the conversations is that the overwhelming preference of older Australians is to age at home, with the thought of residential care as a last resort.
“Demand for community care packages is far exceeding what is available,” Mr Butler said.
The conversations also reinforced the view among many Australians that access to aged care services needs to be simpler and easier and with a greater choice of services.
The COTA report is available at: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/ageing-whatnew.htm