Australia’s population is ageing. There are currently 3.7 million people over the age of 65 in this country which equates to roughly one out of every seven people.
This number will continue to grow, and by 2097, it is projected that one in every four people will actually be over the age of 65.
Growing older is inevitable for all of us, but given the current societal attitudes towards issues that affect the senior Australians, you would be forgiven for thinking that ageing is an affliction that only befalls a chosen few.
In order to begin to change current narratives and views about senior Australians and aged care in general, we must stop looking at aged care as a sector and start embracing the fact that is simply a natural occurrence.
Looking at aged care as a sector gives the perception that ageing should be viewed in a special way and that ageing has complex interrelationships with other sectors, when in reality aged care services should simply be seen as critical human services.
When people begin to view the ageing process as anything other than a natural occurrence they lose sight of the important conversations that we should be having in order to make aged care services the simplified, safe and reliable resource that they should be.
As people age they may require the assistance at multiple junctions throughout their lifetime.
In order for these needs to be met, Australians need to discuss services such as home care, residential aged care, emergency care, financial advice, and options for elderly people who are currently living on the street and struggling with homelessness.
All services should be available to people from all walks of life, from any location and at any age.
Ultimately, the end goal for aged care is to become an afterthought similar to emergency hospital care.
While people obviously do everything that they can to avoid being a part of a medical emergency, there is an ingrained sense of trust and reliability that assures people that if an emergency situation ever occurred they would be well looked after.
This type of reputation was made possible by both the government and the public agreeing that emergency hospital care is a critical human service, and by prioritising funding and growth to ensure that this care was readily available at the highest possible standard.
This exactly the type of reputation that we envision for aged care.
Because aged care is not a sector, it’s simply another critical human service.
Matthew Richter, CEO, Australian Aged Care Guild