Opinion piece by Richard Hearn, former CEO Resthaven Incorporated for Boomer section,
The Advertiser, 23 October 2017.
I recently returned from the ‘Active Ageing – Learning from our friends’ conference in Bangkok, Thailand.
South Australian aged care and Thai expertise was showcased to an audience of more than 500 notable medical, nursing, academic, government and trade representatives.
A high level of interest was demonstrated by the Australian Embassy, with the conference opened by His Excellency Mr Paul Robilliard, Australian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand. The conference was hosted by the Baan Sudthavas Foundation (BSV) and Resthaven, two not-for-profit charities founded to support elderly women in need. Shared values, despite different cultures and faiths, came together to offer great insight into active ageing across borders.
I was proud of the South Australian expert key note speakers, including Professor Renuka Visvanathan, Director of Aged and Extended Care Services, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Centre Director of the Adelaide Geriatrics Training & Research in Aged Care (G-TRAC) Centre, and Resthaven Board Member. She spoke on promoting healthy ageing to encourage people to lead more active lifestyles, reducing geriatric symptoms such as falls, fractures, frailty, dementia and depression.
Jane Mussared, CEO of the Council on the Ageing (COTA) SA, Dr Mike Rungie, member of the South Australian Economic Development Board, and Kelly Geister, Resthaven Senior Manager Residential Services, gave excellent insights into healthy, active, ageing and quality aged care at the conference and during visits to universities and services.
I saw first-hand how the concept of volunteering was explored. Whilst volunteering is second nature to many Australians, it is relatively new to the Thai culture, and was firmly embraced as an important contribution that an individual can make.
I was touched by the respect and prominence given by the Thai people to the ‘elderlies’, revered and valued members of the community. Like many Asian countries, Thailand is wrestling with a growing, ageing population. Great interest was shown in how a more formal system of aged care can be established, with home support and residential aged care.
I was reminded of the great foundations of the Australian aged care system, and its quality, established over many decades. Nonetheless, we are aware of the many people on the national wait list for a government supported home care package.
I believe that maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle adds to quality of life, and we should all spend our own hard earned money on keeping active and healthy. It is money well spent.
For free information about aged care services contact Agedcare Alternatives on 8271 3888.