Peak calls for regional ageing strategy

Older Australians living in regional and rural South Australia fear they will have a lack of support when they age, a new report shows.

Older Australians living in regional and rural South Australia fear they will lack the support they need to age well, a new report shows.

The report from seniors peak body COTA SA calls for a regional ageing strategy to address key the issues affecting older Australians living in regional and rural areas.

The report Ageing in Country South Australia tables the views of more than 400 South Australians aged 50-94, who were questioned in shopping centres about the things that work, don’t work and matter most to them as they age.

Concerns about financial stability, housing and transport were among the key themes identified.

COTA SA chief executive Jane Mussared said many older Australians were facing financial difficulties.

“There were larger numbers than we expected to find whose financial circumstances you could only describe as precarious,” Ms Mussared told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Jane Mussared

“There are also a sizable number of people everywhere in our regions who are there for affordability reasons.”

The report also highlights transport as an important issue for regional-dwelling seniors.

“It’s important in that there is a fair bit of pressure to continue to drive because other options don’t exist,” Ms Mussared said.

Older Australians should have access to services designed from their perspectives, she said.

“Our overarching recommendation is that we develop a regional ageing strategy now that we have some insight into how people are ageing.”

And it is time to get serious about developing a regional ageing service, she said.

“We design services in the metropolitan area, and we impose them quite often on rural populations and they don’t work,” she said.

While a regional ageing strategy can’t be developed immediately, it needs to happen soon after the coronavirus pandemic ends, Ms Mussared said.

“We are very aware that we’re in the middle of a major health crisis.

“We think it’s a significant report and the feedback we have has been positive. But we would expect that on the other side of tackling COVID-19 that we should be having really serious conversations about getting a regional strategy in place,” she said.

COTA SA is working with its COTA counterparts in other states and territories to share ideas and develop strategies for regional and remote areas.

Other recommendations in the report include:

  • a review of transport options in conjunction with the SA Community Transport Association focused on design options to enable older people to travel safely
  • development of a funded technology inclusion plan to help older people learn or refresh skills on how to use technology to stay in touch
  • an investigation of the levels of loneliness and isolation among older people living in country SA
  • for rural councils to prioritise streetscapes that promote intra-town travel for people unable to drive and access for mobility scooters.

View the full report and recommendations here.  

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Tags: ageing in country south australia, cota-sa, council-on-the-ageing, Jane Mussared,

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