Health at the heart of modern ageing

Media Release 1st September 2016

The Council on the Ageing (COTA SA) is a people's movement - an older people's movement. We are run by, with and for older people.

We are in constant touch with a wide range of older people - through surveys, forums, focus groups, workshops and conversations.

We genuinely engage well over 100,000 people every year through a variety of avenues, as we seek to reflect and represent the rights, aspirations and interests of 590,000 older South Australians.

Not surprisingly, the number one interest of older people in all of our forums is their health.

Older people have a major stake in our health system.

On average 40% of patients in our hospitals are aged between 65 and 85 years. People aged over 75 years, while making up 7% of the population, comprise 11% of the population presenting to emergency departments.

Older people use more GP visits and stay longer in hospital.

Unfortunately we don't always get the experience we want or expect. Using health services often feels piecemeal and as a result we lose control over what happens to us.

COTA SA continues to campaign for the rights and needs of older South Australians when it comes to health:

We must involve older people in things about them

COTA SA has reflected the growing call by older people to be treated with more respect by the health system - as partners in their own care not as passive bystanders.

We need to try new approaches to health

The greatest untapped resource in the health of older people is older people themselves. We have not yet found a way to make the most of it. When people take charge of their health, with the right information and encouragement to do so, their health and quality of life is improved. COTA SA is very interested in work out of the UK called ‘People Powered Health' that includes, among other things, peer led approaches to make better use of GP consultations and advanced care directives.

We must make sure that older people have lots of opportunities to stay well and to recover

Exercise is one such example. There is plenty of evidence about the value of exercise at any age, and yet data suggests that exercise drops away from being high in our teens and never recovers. Well over half of all people over the age of 55 do not exercise.

COTA SA's Strength for Life Program, offered in over 90 gyms and taken up by more than 10,000 people all over the state, is a proven way to return to exercise, prevent falls and stay well.

If we increased our investment in such approaches, we have great potential to make dramatic differences to the health of older people and reduce the need for health and aged care services.

We need a clear model of service for frail older people

There is an urgent need to agree to a best practice model for the support of frail older people across acute and primary care. An episodic approach to the health care of frail older people creates hardship for both the person and their carers.

We want the Australian and South Australian governments to work together on cooperative trials that emphasise coordination, restoration and continuity of care.

Timely early interventions and careful follow up are often, at the least, as important as the acute intervention in terms of the outcome for the older person.

We must be able to measure results

Related to the need to define a model of care for older people is the importance of measurable indicators to track the progress of older people through the health system and give confidence that the proposed reforms actually deliver better outcomes.

This is the state that owns and loves our ageing and it is the state in Australia with the best chance to define modern ageing. Health is at the heart of that.

COTA SA is an older people's movement run by, for and with older people. We represent the rights, needs and aspirations of 590,000 older South Australians as part of a national federation which began in 1957.

Further media information contact:
Amber Fromm - amber@communikate.net.au | 0400 324 220
Bec Tape - rtape@communikate.net.au | 0438 806 983

Download a copy of the media release (pdf)