In Australia, maintaining the good health of the elderly is one of the top priorities as evidenced by the fact that today’s older Australians live generally healthier and longer lives than previous generations. During 1960’s, life expectancy at birth was 74 years old for girls while 67 years for boys. Based on the latest mortality data indicate that girls born in 2013 can expect to live in the age of 84, and boys to 80. Life expectancy is positively increasing as most Australians enjoy greater standards of living and better access to high-quality healthcare.
Such also implies that the proportion of older people – 65 years old and above – in the Australian population is increasing. But on the other hand, while longer lives are a positive result for individuals, at the population level, increased life spans and older age generally result in increased ill health. Many health conditions and impairments, like arthritis, dementia and hearing loss become more common as people get older. However, on the positive side, most Australians consider themselves to be in good health. This enables senior citizens to enjoy a good quality of life longer and to participate in the community. It also reduces the demand for health and aged care services.
Here are some studies summarizing the health conditions of the senior citizens in Australia:
- According to Australian health survey, 7 out of 10 Australian elders rated their health as excellent or nearly excellent. The survey does not include people living in the institutions.
- 2 out of 5 hospitalizations in 2013 to 2014 were people aged 65 and over.
- Half of older Australians reported disability in 2012.
- 3 out of 10 deaths in older Australians were either due to coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular diseases or dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- 4 out of 10 Australians aged 65 and above in 2014 were born overseas 14% in main English-speaking countries while 23% in non-English speaking countries.
Indeed, family members and caregivers have a variety of health concerns especially when it comes to their elders. Topics to maintain the good health condition of the elders are of great importance.
It will be of great help to consider the following essential health tips for senior citizens:
- Quit smoking. Smoking causes cancer, strokes, heart failure and erectile dysfunction to men. Taking this critical step will improve health and combat aging.
- Stay active. Physical activities help you stay at a healthy weight and stay fit. It also helps you look and feel better.
- Eat well. Many illnesses and health problems can be controlled by eating nutritious foods.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Replace sugary drinks with water – water is calorie free!
- Prevent falls. People become vulnerable to fall as they age. Be extra cautious and wear shoes with good support to reduce the risk of falling.
- Stay up-to-date on immunizations and other health screenings. By age 50, women should begin mammography screening for breast cancer while men should be checked for prostate cancer. Many preventive screenings are available.
- Prevent skin cancer. As we age, our skin grows thinner; it becomes drier and more elastic thus making it more prone to skin cancer. Be sure to protect your skin from the sun.
- Get regular dental, vision and hearing check-ups. By age 50, people notice changes in their vision as well as experiencing hearing loss. Thus, regular check-ups must be done. Teeth and gums also need proper care.
- Manage stress. Try some exercise and other relaxation techniques – meditation or yoga can give great ways to manage stress. Also, make time for friends and social contacts and fun.
- Fan the flame. When it comes to sexual intimacy, age is not a reason to limit your sexual enjoyment. Learn about physical changes that come with aging and get suggestions to help you adjust to them, if needed.
Health for the elderly is indeed a big concern not just by the society but most importantly by the family members of the elders themselves. Senior citizens should be entitled to enjoy a rich and dignified life after years of contribution to society. They have the right to enjoy life, be part of the activities of the community and be given importance most especially by their loved ones. Above all the physical, mental and other ways to maintain the good health and long life of our seniors, it is of great factor that we show them proper attention, care and love. For in the end, all of us will grow old. Nurture life; maintain good health and live life by being a blessing to others.