Why Third Age Matters?

Welcome to Third Age Matters.

Why third age and why does it matter?

I think of the third age as a new stage of life. I like the term because it isn’t prescriptive about what a person is doing. It engages with concepts of a golden age and active retirement.

Clearly, third age refers to an older rather than younger age, but it isn’t limited by ideas of when it starts or ends. It does signal a time when we have largely moved on from responsibilities associated with work and family and have time to pursue our own interests.

There are now many positive social, intellectual and sporting activities specifically designed around third age participants.

But aging can also bring fragility, and sometimes it becomes impossible for an older person to continue to live independently. While aging is by no means just about aged care, there is little doubt the time will come when we all need to think about how and where we should live if our general health declines.

The Productivity Commission says that more than 1.6 per cent of the population is already over 85. By 2050, this will be at least five per cent, which means that the number of people needing aged care services will increase from more one million today to 3.5 million by 2030. Demand for services rises considerably once people reach 85, when the number of people with disabilities and with dementia increase.

What does this mean in practical terms?

Home-based care will be a solution for some but not others. When care at home is not an option or no longer meets a person’s needs, it may be necessary to consider moving into residential aged care where health issues can be handled by professionals who specialise in caring for older people.

I set up Third Age Matters because I could see that people were finding the aged-care system in Australia both confusing and complicated.

As a result, I wanted to offer a service where we would:

• explain the aged-care system in Australia in a way that everyone can understand
• help people navigate their way through the aged-care system
• ensure that our clients would find the best possible aged-care solution for them.

As part of Third Age Matters’ commitment to demystifying aged care, we’ve also launched our blog, Village Voice, where we will discuss what is happening within the aged-care industry.

We propose to look at a range of aged care issues, but will also focus on:

• legislative changes affecting the aged-care industry
• activities of aged-care providers
• views of residents and potential residents of aged-care facilities.

There is no doubt that the issue of whether it is time for an older person to move into residential aged care can be both emotional and stressful. Individuals and their families may have feelings of fear and dread about moving into residential aged care.

Why is it that at a time when many people could be looking forward to an exciting next phase they are gripped with distress and confusion?

Is the fear age-related? Possibly.

Nevertheless, at Third Age Matters we believe some of the emotional trauma can be alleviated by explaining the system in language everyone can understand and by ensuring that any solution is tailored to the particular individual’s requirements and takes into account their personal preferences.

Anyone with older parents or relatives, particularly those family members with power of attorney, can expect to play some role in the financial and care decisions concerning their loved ones. In short, issues relating to aged care not only affect older people but anyone with a parent or family moving into the third age.

Often this will involve major decisions around where the person will live, how they will pay for it and ultimately for all of us, how they will die.

The average time spent in high-care is two and a half years. Yet there is a big possibility that there has been little or no discussion among family members around how to pay for any care for their older member; what sort of care they might want or need; and whether they already have preferred aged-care services in mind.

These are the issues many of us need to think about – and they matter.