Most people don’t think about aged care until they need to. But these days, support for older Australians is a lot more flexible.
If you ask older Australians what they aspire for as they age, chances are, ‘remaining independent’ will be amongst the top goals. Nowadays, Australians are redefining aging, aiming to stay in the comfort of their own homes for longer.
Stay Connected to People and Purpose:
Close social and family bonds, a sense of purpose and a willingness to continue working longer are key factors in living longer and healthier lives.
Older Australians who remain socially connected to their family and wider community experience a greater sense of belonging, higher levels of self-esteem, and improvements in their physical and mental wellbeing. It also helps improve cognitive function and can even decrease or delay the likelihood of memory loss and dementia.
Having a social commitment, hobby or something to drive you can also go a long way to maintaining personal identity and mental health. Plus, multiple studies have shown that a little creativity later in life has multiple health benefits.
Here are a few social support ideas to consider:
Probus South Pacific
With a tagline ‘fun and friendship in retirement’, Probus South Pacific is open to anyone (retired or semi-retired) who wants to participate in a range of activities with other members. Monthly meetings feature engaging guest speakers and provide an opportunity to meet and catch up with peers.
The Australian Men’s Shed Association supports nearly one thousand Men’s Sheds around the country. It was established in the 1980s as a way of enhancing the health and wellbeing of older men. It encourages social interaction and helps to reduce depression-related illness in elderly men.
Different sheds offer different activities but the common thread is manual tasks such as woodworking, metalwork, furniture restoration, gardening, bicycle repairs, computer recycling, beekeeping, toymaking, picture framing, welding, leatherwork and pottery.
Country Women’s Association
CWAs have been a backbone of remote and country areas across Australia in good and tough times. They are an active community of women who help to improve the lives of people in their regions and are famous for their cooking, handcrafts, friendship, community and connection.
Though it dates back to 1922, today, the CWA has city chapters as well. Women join to participate in cultural events, tours, competitions, fundraising and lobbying activities, baking, and supporting community groups with various activities.
Rediscover the joy of handwritten letters. The Letterbox Project is a national pen pal program fostering connection and community, with handwritten letters being sent across Australia. When you join, you will be matched with a tailored pen pal and given their description.
There are also options to join online clubs and programs such as book clubs, garden clubs and art classes.
We know that people who live independently for longer remain healthier and happier. Remaining as active as possible for as long as possible will help you to maintain the physical wellbeing you need for an independent life.
Incorporate movement and exercise into your daily life, no matter how small – like a stretch or walk to the shop.
Exercise doesn’t need to be all-or-nothing and even small changes can help. Some options to consider include daily walks, chair exercises, swimming and hydrotherapy or gardening.
You can find out more from Department of Health and Aged Care physical activity for over 65s.
Get (virtually) Connected:
Staying connected is not just about remaining part of a community. These days, it’s also about adapting to technology that’s available to help you manage your affairs. Learning new skills in technology not only helps to exercise your brain, it’s equipping you with the tools that you can use to independently manage your financial affairs and life admin for longer.
BeConnected offers free online courses and training for older Australians. Be Connected is an Australian government initiative committed to increasing the confidence, skills and online safety of older Australians.
Be Proactive About Health Concerns
As we age, it can be easy to accept health complaints as a normal part of ageing. Taking early action about a health complaint, or even just regular health screenings can help you address and even reverse health deterioration in older age
We all age at different paces and in different ways and there are certain conditions more related to an aging body including arthritis, heart disease, osteoporosis and hearing and vision loss.
Visiting your primary care GP for regular wellness checks is another way to stay on top of any health concerns or identify health conditions sooner.
Staying Independent: Self-Managing Your Home Care Package
Self-managing your home care package puts you in control of the services you receive, who provides them, and when. You can also negotiate how much you pay independent support workers and source your own Service providers. Support workers on our Partner site Mable, offer a range of services, from social support and personal care to transport support and nursing care.