Dr Olive Bryanton, an activist and leader in the Older Adult and Caregiver Advisory Committee, AGE-WELL, once said: “We must listen to the voices of older people on what matters most to them in their daily lives.” She graduated with her PhD at the age of 82.
These words are more relevant than ever given the global population is ageing, and Australia is no different.
It is estimated that the number of older people aged 85 years and above will rise from 2% of the population in 2014 to 3% or almost one million by 2034. As a result, we will have:
- Older people within our community living longer with greater levels of chronic disease and comorbidity.
- Most notably, there will be increased rates of cognitive impairment as well as mobility issues which will require appropriate management and support.
The recent Royal Commission into Aged Care highlights these changing Australian demographics as well as the health challenges faced by older people. Given the findings of this report and the number of recommendations proposed, it is clear that the current system is not always providing quality care or meeting community expectations. There is no question that this will have a considerable impact on our aged care system.
Our current challenge
There is a significant desire to support more older people to remain within their homes as they age, rather than transition early to residential aged care. But for this to be achieved there needs to be a continual focus on implementing a range of management approaches that focus on ensuring independence and autonomy.
This is where podiatrists enter the picture, given we can play a significant role in facilitating this.
The focus of this article
This third article in the aged care series explores:
- The importance of functional mobility as we age
- The implications that poor mobility has on older people’s quality of life
- The importance of older people maintaining independence so that older people have the ability to remain in their own homes for longer (rather than prematurely transitioning to residential aged care).
In particular, I will discuss the podiatrist’s role in:
- Understanding the importance of mobility in older people
- Considering how we can contribute to the Royal Commission’s recommendations
- Proactively identifying ways to maintain and improve the mobility of all older people (to prevent early transition to aged care services).