Understanding the Different Needs of the Elderly

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The improvement of healthcare systems and technology has paved the way for a better quality of life. Aside from healthcare, what are the special needs of seniors that the government and community must address?

What are the needs of the elderly?

Given the increased risk of chronic health problems, access to healthcare is one of the most urgent care needs of older people.

Based on research studies, the following are the other special needs of older adults and the elderly:

  • Psychological health 

Mental and emotional support is important for the elderly as they often experience sadness, loneliness, and hopelessness, sometimes even depression. The elderly require a sense of security and should be surrounded by people they recognise.

  • Financial security

The finances of older adults are often tied to government pension funding and savings rates. Seniors who are approaching retirement or are retired often seek financial security and independence.

  • Personal security and safety

The lack of protection exposes seniors to personal safety and security issues such as injuries, disasters, and violence. The 2014 World Health Organization report stated that 10% of elderly people experience social abuses every month, which can often lead to emotional challenges, social isolation and neglect.

  • Self-actualisation

According to Maslow, after fulfilling all the basic needs, the highest need of humans can then be fulfilled: the need for self-actualisation. Older people need to achieve acquired wisdom and maturity even with the realities of life.

  • Connection and Relationships

Being cut off from family, friends, and community relationships could lead to feeling loneliness and isolation. Seniors still need to be emotionally and physically connected to family and loved ones to give them a feeling of support and care.

As carers, how can you address the needs of the elderly?

Caring for the well-being of elderly people is similar to keeping an eye on one’s physical condition.

With access to healthcare professional interventions, carers may keep a full social calendar for seniors without the need to spend much money. They only require self-motivation and proper time management.

How to take care of the elderly

It is vital to recognise that every senior has different needs. When caring for older adults, here are some ways you can do:

  • Talk to them, pay attention to their wishes, and find out the activities they enjoy doing.
  • Create a recreational routine such as cycling, reading favourite books, and social activities with family and close friends.
  • Be on the lookout for emotional mood swings and administer medications on time.

Can I view the health needs and health-related concerns of seniors separately?

Various factors influence medical problems and many of which affect the elderly’s daily life. Physical disabilities, emotional health issues, depression, dementia, and other comorbidities are more common among aging seniors. Health-related concerns and health needs cannot be tackled distinctly.

How Australian Government Address These Needs

In 2017, about 3.8 million Australians are at age 65 and over. Research studies project this population to continue to increase over the next few decades. Currently, Australians now have one of the highest life expectancies worldwide. Research studies from the World Health Organization also project the number of people over 60 years to double by 2050.

With this, government policies and programs have been put in place to assist seniors:

  • Aged Care Act

The main legislation on government-funded support is the Aged Care Act of 1997. It establishes guidelines for financing, legislation, emotional conditions, provider acceptance, care quality, and the rights of those receiving support. It is subject to diversity and discrimination laws.

  • Health and disability

The majority of healthcare for older Australians is covered by government-funded services and healthcare resources. Medicare ensures that elderly Australians have equal access to medical and hospital facilities at little or no cost.

  • Social Security

The aged pension, wife pension, spouse allowance, and mature age allowance are the primary forms of social security assistance for older citizens, including farmers. Pension Bonus Scheme also encourages the elderly to stay past the pension age.

  • Residential

The Commonwealth Government finances and manages Australia’s structured home care sector, including living arrangements: high care places and low care places.

  • Community support

Governments have advocated for ageing in place as a general policy course. This has essentially entailed a greater focus on providing home care services to keep older adults and frail people in their homes or family environments. There are also relevant policies to support aging in rural and remote areas as well as laws regarding elderly protection over discrimination and crimes.

Things to Remember

Older adults require preventive healthcare, medical and social needs, good nutrition, and medication. However, we need to understand they need emotional support. Empower them to take on simple tasks that will help them reclaim their sense of purpose and control.

We’ve got plenty more information on all things retirement and aged care here at Aged Care Weekly. Have a browse or sign up for our newsl

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