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Preparing for Quality and Quantity – Senior Years

Healthy and Active Ageing

Have you ever wondered what the secret is to a long, healthy and happy life? In other words, how can you aim to have a good quality of life as well as quantity of life during your senior years?

We all know that people keep living longer and life expectancy in developed countries forever increases. According to the World Population Review the average life expectancy of Australians in 2019 was approximately 83 years.

But are people living with good health in their senior years? How many Australians over the age of 65 live with co-morbidities and chronic health conditions? That’s conditions that are long term and persistent.

Chronic Diseases Impacting on Quality and Quantity of Life

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare state that the eight major groups of chronic diseases in Australia includes the following:

  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Back Pain
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Mental Health Conditions

As of 2015, 87% of people aged 65 years and older had at least one of these chronic disease.

Factors Determining Health

So what are the factors that determine how healthy people are as they get older? The World Health Organisation states that the main determinants of health includes the social and economic environment, the physical environment and the person’s individual characteristic and behaviours.  Health’s also determined by other factors, including the following:

  • Social status
  • Income levels
  • Gender
  • Education level
  • Social support networks
  • Access to health services
  • Genetics

By looking at the above determinants of health, such as gender and genetics, it appears that you don’t have control over several of these factors. You can only change what you can control. So what can you control?

Living Healthy

By being as healthy as you can, you’ll improve your quality of life and decrease your risk of developing chronic diseases. For example, if you’re overweight you’ll significantly increase your risks of developing several chronic diseases including arthritis, back pain, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

If you don’t stay active or exercise, you increase your risk of developing chronic conditions such as mental health conditions, diabetes, arthritis, back pain and cardiovascular disease.

Four elderly men sitting together around a table

Seeking Connections and Socialising

Socialising will also improve your quality of life. By socialising you’ll improve both your mental and physical health.

According to the Mayo clinic, socialising as you age reduces the risk of dementia and  mental health conditions. People are generally happier when they socialise and it’s been shown to reduce overall stress levels.

Does Money Impact on Your Health?

By looking at the determinants listed by the World Health Organisation, you’ll see that health’s impacted by lifestyle and financial factors. If your a person struggling financially and it’s impacting on your health and quality of life, you’re not alone and there’s some help available in Australia.

If you’re an older Australian living in your home, and you’re unable to afford health care services, unable to access transport, unable to exercise, and unable to cook healthy meals, there’s help available. You may be eligible to access aged care services and arrange government funded in home care. To find out if you’re eligible you can contact My Aged Care for help on 1800 200 422.

In home care via a home care package or the Commonwealth home support programme, can give you the support that you need to reduce your risks of chronic diseases, and improve your quality of life.

For example, a home care package can give you access to transport to and from medical appointments, and regular physiotherapy. It can provide the funding for nutritional support, the support to enable you to attend social activities, and much more.

Getting help and making changes towards healthy and active ageing

Finally, if you’re in need of further assistance on your journey to healthy and active ageing, consider some of these options:

  • QUIT the smokes and call 13 7848 for help
  • My Aged Care can help you with aged care services by calling 1800 200 422
  • Visit your G.P. for advice and support
  • The Better Health Channel or your state health department

Taking some small steps now might give you the extra years that you’re hoping for, These small steps might also reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases to enable you to have both a long and healthy life.

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