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New Alliance to make Hunter an Age Friendly Community

A group of citizens has formed a new alliance to get all levels of government, business, NGOs and citizens to focus more on older people and work together to make the Hunter an age friendly community.

Hunter Ageing Alliance spokesperson, and geriatrician, Dr John Ward, said there is not enough attention on meeting the needs of the growing number of local older people.

People over 65 will soon make up a quarter of the region’s population and the number of people over 85 will double in the next 20 years.

“We all need to commit to playing our part, and we can show other communities how to age well.” Using the WHO Guide, the Alliance will hold stakeholder workshops and meetings to help the region obtain Aged Friendly Community status.

Ageing in the Hunter

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  • 25% of our community will soon be aged 65+
  • Unacceptable waiting times for access to appropriate community support services
  • An aged care system in crisis –  underfunded, poorly regulated (as highlighted by the Aged Care Royal Commission)
  • Ageism – including in the way organisations are structured
  • Declining number of older homeowners and growing  number of homeless older women
  • The highest prevalence of suicide is men 80+
  • Increasing rates of elder abuse – in institutions and by family members.

Hunter voters aged 55+ by Federal electorate

ElectorateVoters aged 55+% total voters
Hunter51,42341.7%
Newcastle43,51636.5%
Paterson52,99942.2%
Shortland51,72645.2%

The way forward

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The way forward is for local leaders to come together to define local needs and develop an integrated plan with regard to ageing.

Key areas include:

  • defining the features of an age-friendly environment for Hunter people
  • community recognition that older people have the same needs and desires as younger people to be physically, intellectually and socially active
  • programs to reduce social isolation, loneliness and vulnerability
  • services to advise people on how to access the aged care system, particularly support at home
  • more accommodation where people have their social network
  • health services to meet older peoples’ needs – targeting chronic disease, including dementia
  • residential aged care that meets differing needs including those with advanced medical and nursing needs, dementia, chronic mental illness, and intellectual disability
  • programs to minimise elder abuse
  • end-of-life care that includes appropriate planning, physical care, companionship, palliative care, and assisted dying when appropriate.

Global age-friendly cities

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The World Health Organization

The purpose of the guide is to engage cities to become more age-friendly so as to tap the potential that older people represent for humanity. It describes the converging trends of rapid growth of the population over 60 years of age and of urbanisation, outlines the challenge facing cities, and summarises the research process that led to identifying the core features of an age-friendly city.