The purpose of this article is to identify some of the pressing problems that people face as they age, in particular where and how they live, and to suggest a range of possible solutions.
Ageing in place is a concept which focuses on both where and how an elder lives, self managed, highlighting quality of life issues such as health, housing, transport,safety and opportunities for education, recreation, volunteering and social interaction.
Ageing in place isn’t just a matter of building accommodation. It’s about choices, enabling seniors to stay in their own homes in comfort and security for as long as their health and financial circumstances allow.
Flexible, affordable solutions are required, for the time when an intervention of an illness or unexpected crisis causes a person to require alternative accommodation, often in the same area where their local GP and shops and friends remain.
Some could require assistance from current health services, but remain able to make decisions and enjoy their life, as before.
Frail aged residents would need live-in nursing help and compassionate people to provide relief from loneliness, helplessness and boredom, with eventual palliative care.
The impetus for calling attention to this need comes from first hand experience of our peers:
- Inability to find residential accommodation in the area after a fall, leading to isolation in a nursing home too far away for friends to visit.
- No respite care available during the winter months when current housing was unsuitable in order to remain healthy.
- Sudden illness requiring temporary care, before recuperation and return to home.
- Relocation of family members to be closer to other family inhibited by cost.
- Availability of visits from local long standing GP’s desirable.
- Access to ongoing basic health programmes at clinics in the area.
- If an Elder, living alone at home, is required to go to hospital the stay is likely to be longer than usual, because no care is available at home after release. Thus costing the State more.
High security of blocks of flats is an issue. In an emergency, the resident could become inaccessible for care givers.
Transport is also a big consideration, isolation because of lack of mobility is common. Those who are no longer driving don’t easily enjoy the independence of getting their shopping done or visits to friends or medical appointments.
Of course, public transport is hardly a panacea for the problems of the frail elderly. Trudging to a bus stop or train station, climbing up stairs and dealing with schedules and bad weather, lack of seats may simply be too demanding. And Community Transport can’t possibly handle the volume that the “silver tsunami” will produce.
So for many senior boomers, the availability of that bus or train may be the single most important factor in allowing them to live the good life — or, given the realities of ageing, the pretty good life.
We are interested in a place where those who are relatively well and mobile can live long term, and also facilities for those who suddenly and unexpectedly are no longer able to function independently, maybe for a short period.