Healthy ageing: the time to start is now

While the global population is ageing, all of us need to consider what to expect as we face ever-increasing longevity.

While the global population is ageing, all of us need to consider what to expect as we face ever-increasing longevity.

Once upon a time, there were some inevitabilities to old age, such as loosing independence, quality of life, and worsening chronic diseases. The good news is that every individual has a choice to change that. There is enough information and support available about healthy ageing and wellness and reablement that there is no need to accept old age with a sense of deficit and decline. Some people may need information to help realise where they are on their journey to wellness and healthy ageing.

“There should be no sense of inevitability about the sad and frighteningly expensive version of old age.” (Pru Goward, SMH, Sept 3, 2020)

Ageing is not a problem; it’s how people deal with it that can be the problem. If people stay healthy and socially connected as they age, there is an opportunity to realise the potential in their added life years.

The team at KeepAble want to keep the conversation going about healthy ageing, whether you are a person facing older age in the coming years, a concerned relative or already facing loss of ability and social connectedness.

KeepAble is an online collaborative hub full of practical content built around the belief that every person regardless of age or disability, has the right to fulfil their physical, mental, and spiritual potential, no matter where they are on life’s journey.

“The team at KeepAble see healthy aging as a wave of change that can impact not only individuals, but also families and communities, especially if people stay connected and fully engaged in their life.”

Healthy Ageing and the Wellness and Reablement Approach

For starters, the science on healthy ageing is most definitely in, and although good genes help, they are far from the end of the story. There is a lot more to consider when focusing on the whole person.

Wellness is an active process in which people become aware of and make a choice to change the way they go about their daily activities. The wellness approach is ongoing throughout a person’s support journey. Reablement is a subset of wellness, with the difference being that it is time-limited and specifically addresses barriers to independence and supports people to getting back to doing things for themselves. Under the wellness and reablement approach, people remain active and engaged in daily life, continue to do whatever they can to support themselves, and take the lead role in decisions affecting them.

The International Council on Active Ageing (ICAA) names seven domains that contribute to wellness: physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, social, environmental, and vocational. The dimensions reflect different areas of a person’s life, and balance is hard to achieve without some planning.

KeepAble provides guidelines for frontline workers in homecare and family caregivers to deliver wellness and reablement in the home and community as a healthy aging strategy. This includes evidenced-based information on wellness and healthy ageing. For example, the Sit Less Move More resource outlines how to boost physical activity levels as recommended by the 2020 World Health Organization guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour. It is well-known that less than 15% of older adults 60 years of age and older meet recommendations of at least 150 minutes/week of moderate physical activity. Increasing physical activity levels at any age can have spin-off benefits for physical strength, flexibility, balance, socialisation, and emotional and mental health. All these benefits are important components of overall wellbeing. Healthy ageing under the wellness and reablement approach means people remain active and engaged in daily life and continue to do whatever they can to support themselves; and take the lead role in decisions affecting them. Having a sense of control and exercising personal power enhances confidence and adds to a sense of purpose to life.

Visit the KeepAble hub today for lots of information and resources, comment and feedback your stories and experiences of ageing well and register on the ‘Count me in’ form to become involved with KeepAble ongoing development and have your say on wellness and reablement.

ILA is a Western Australian not-for-profit organisation with a focus on individualised assessment, peer navigation, and community and sector capacity-building initiatives.

KeepAble was created by ILA’s Sector Support & Development (SSD) team and is one of a range of activities that the team undertakes through SSD funding from the Australian Government, Department of Health, Commonwealth Home Support Programme.

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