How old are you really? Regardless of how old you are, we all have an age we are inside. In this episode of Grey Matters, Tracey and Ben talk about how we can change attitudes to ageing in Australia.

To listen to the podcast – press the ‘play’ button below.

Just because you have grey hair and wrinkles doesn’t mean you can’t make decisions and choices for yourself.

Key points discussed:

  • Treating elderly as people first, not an age
  • Overcoming ageist stereotypes
  • Changing the way services are provided to older people
  • What should the aged service system of the future look like

Read Full Transcript

Ben Davis:
G’day, welcome to Grey Matters. This week, what’s your inside age? Ben Davis alongside Tracey Silvester from Seasons Aged Care. Tracey, you and I spoke previously about how we actually feel on the inside; how old we are, rather than that number that defines us by birthdate. It’s so important, isn’t it?

Tracey Silvester:
Yes it is. I think that when you start talking to older people or even I say myself, I’m 29 really.

Ben Davis:
I was going to say, not a day over 25-

Tracey Silvester:
Yeah, right good on you. Thanks, Ben. Love your work.

But I think we’ve all got an age that we relate to. When I’ve spoken with older people … I think I talked last time about the 92 year old that said he was really 21. I’ve got a very dear friend who’s in her 80s, she feels like she’s still 35. My mother at 75 she still thinks she’s in her 40s. So there is that whole age that we relate back to.

But I think the important thing is that we then become invisible, and there’s that whole thing you get a bit of grey hair, a few wrinkles, you might need a bit of help to walk around, you might a bit of help to walk around, you might have a walking stick or a walking frame, and automatically you become invisible to the community. Now, with our population ageing the way it is, we can’t continue to have those attitudes towards older people.

Ben Davis:
Is there a magic number?

Tracey Silvester:
Government talks about people – 65. 65 seems to be the magic number where you can get access to aged care services.

Ben Davis:
I reckon there’d be a lot of people over 65 going, “Hang on.”

Tracey Silvester:
Absolutely. And under 65 is where you fit into the NDIS, so the National Disability Insurance Scheme. But 65 … There’s lots of people still around, still working at 65.

Ben Davis:
Yeah.

Tracey Silvester:
So I think it’s going to be interesting as the retirement age increases to see what happens to the aged care system and is it that you can’t access the aged care system perhaps until you’re 70?

Ben Davis:
Tracy, for 29 year olds like you and I, we’re listening to this with our parents in our thoughts. But we should probably be thinking about what we’re going to do moving forward?

Tracey Silvester:
Absolutely. I think it then comes back to our attitudes towards ageing, because as we all get older then we’re going to be those people with grey hair and wrinkles. So it is important-

Ben Davis:
Why do you look at me like that?

Tracey Silvester:
No, I didn’t look at you like anything. I was thinking about myself more than anything.

Ben Davis:
But I mean, that’s the thing. We need to start thinking about it, because the system could very well change right underneath us.

Tracey Silvester:
Correct. They talk about a tsunami. If you think about a tsunami as being something that comes and goes. The issue we have right now in terms of the number of old people that are going to need access to services in the next 15 to 20 years, they’ll be a 15 to 20, maybe a 30 year gap. Then that will change again, so we’ll have more younger people coming through. I don’t think there’s necessarily an ageing tsunami, but there’s certainly going to be a point in our country’s history where there’s going to be lots of older people. And probably more older people requiring services than there are people in the workforce to actually support that group of older people. We need to think about, okay what does that mean for us? How are we going to look after ourselves moving forward?

Ben Davis:
What’s this going to look like in the future as aged care progresses?

Tracey Silvester:
I think the service system will change quite significantly. I think providers of aged care services really need to be starting to think now about what that looks like. As baby boomers come through and require services as they age, they’re a group of people that are actually pretty used to being consumers. So they are used to having choice about where they go to dinner, what sort of fridge they buy, what sort of car they buy. That won’t be any different for them as they age and require services. You’re also talking about a generation of people that have been used to outsourcing some of their domestic chores, for example. So they’re going to continue to require cleaning, lawn mowing, et cetera. The way those services are currently provided is actually quite provider-centric, so providers do dictate quite a lot to consumers as to how those services are provided.

That’s not going to work into the future, largely because I suspect consumers will be self-funding a lot of their care, so they’ll actually be forking out of their own back pockets to pay for their services. But also, because they will want to have their service at 9:00 on a Friday morning because they’ve got a whole other life that they need to go and lead. I think it’s going to be … the next 15 years I think is going to be very interesting in the aged care service sector, because of the changing attitudes of consumers towards their services.

Ben Davis:
Plenty to think about, plenty to chew on. Tracey, thank you. We’ll do it again soon. And remember, Grey Matters.

Season’s Aged Care website

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