• Ageing with Dignity

    Ageing with Dignity

    Sir Paul McCartney, who celebrated his 80th birthday this year, was only 14 years old when he penned the line, “will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64”.

    In the mid-1960s, life expectancy was 68 years for men and 74 for women. Today, this has increased to 81 and 85 years, respectively.

    In 1965, The Who put it more bluntly when they sang, “I hope I die before I get old”. Pete Townsend was 20 years old. He is now 77.

    In Australia, there are now half a million people aged 85 years and over. While the increase in absolute numbers has been significant, the share of the Australian population is set to grow even further in the next 40 years.

    We are seeing more people living independently into their eighties and nineties, and it is now not uncommon for someone to reach one hundred. As we live longer, there is an increased likelihood that we will have more than one health condition, or co-morbidity, to deal with.

    These health conditions will mean that it is likely that we will need some form of support. In fact, a study revealed that 80% of Australians used an aged care program at some stage before their death.

    On 2 August 2022, the Australian Government passed legislation that implements nine measures to improve aged care and respond to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

    These include the introduction of a new funding model in residential care and an Independent Health and Aged Care Pricing Authority, amongst other transparency and accountability measures.

    It is paramount that people are afforded dignity as they age. Aged care organisations deliver care and support across the entire continuum of services, from a little bit of help with the shopping to 24-hour personal care.

    While it may be fashionable to say that we want to age disgracefully, the reality is that most of us would prefer to die with dignity after a long and fulfilling life.

    Perhaps we can get by with a little help from our friends.

    Opinion piece by Darren Birbeck,
    Chief Executive Officer,
    Resthaven Incorporated