A positive attitude, purpose and meaning, being respected and connecting with family, friends and society are among the key attributes of ageing well, a report released this week shows.
Ageing Well in a Changing World by Commissioner for Senior Victorians Gerard Mansour aims to inform government policy including the Victorian Government’s ageing well framework for maximising the wellbeing and quality of life of older Victorians.
The report, which was launched on Thursday, is based on in-depth conversations with 231 participants and an online survey of 4,726 Victorians aged 60 about what senior Victorians think about what it means to age well.
It identified the following eight attributes to age well:
- a positive attitude
- a life with purpose and meaning
- respected and respectful
- connected to family, friends and society
- in touch with a changing world
- personal and financial safety and security
- able to manage physical and mental health
- able to get around.
Mr Mansour said these eight attributes provide a clear message that older people want to be as independent as possible.
“They want to manage their health conditions as independently as they can. They want to have as much decision making control as possible of key life decisions,” Mr Mansour told Australian Ageing Agenda.
“But they also need support and one of the challenges older people have is that many older people find it difficult to acknowledge they need support because some of them carry a real stigma.”
Mr Mansour said these key attributes also apply to seniors living in residential aged care.
“They’re absolutely directly transferable because we were able to see with the eight attributes and feedback we got that they were universal,” he said.
“The key attributes of ageing well don’t change. Even people in residential aged care want an opportunity to exercise as much as possible and they want the opportunity to have social connection. Now none of those things disappear just because somebody walks into the door of an aged care home.”
The report found 70 per cent of participants experienced some level of satisfaction with their quality of life as they aged, but a significant minority experience limitations to their wellbeing.
Factors reducing quality of life for participants include cost of living and activities (43 per cent), insufficient opportunities that meet interests (36 per cent) and a lack of information on what is available in the community (35 per cent).
More than a quarter of participants said ageism and disrespect diminished their quality of life (28 per cent).
Mr Mansour said the report validates that older people want to stay in and connected to their community.
Residential aged care providers could address this by strengthening their community connections and encourage local seniors to visit, he said.
“When we get to a COVID-safe world, there is enormous opportunity to host and bring older people into the residential aged care facility much earlier on and so we get that integrated connection between aged care and the local community,” Mr Mansour said.
“Now some providers we know do that exceptionally well, but there is much more opportunity for us to better connect people living in residential aged care with the communities in which they live,” he said.