Health + Ageing: Can you choose your own adventure?

We have heard often enough, the statistic that Australians are living longer and the anticipated crises in healthcare as the baby boom reaches old age and strains our resources to support them. However, the fact that successive cohorts are also living with far better health in their older age is not as widely mentioned. This throws up some fascinating implications for the way we plan for healthcare in future and for our societal expectations of life after the milestone of age 65.

Accepting that premise, we recognise the need to explore better models in health and aged care that provide us with real options for appropriate care and quality of life, but that still consider people as capable adults for the whole span of their life.

Looking at the ways these interconnected industries interact to offer choice, Fulton Trotter hosted our own forum ‘Health + Ageing: Can you choose your own adventure?’

Along with two of our own directors, Paul Trotter and Justine Ebzery, invited guest speakers Professor Stephen Birch from UQ, Jennene Buckley CEO of Feros Care, as well as Professor Graham Kerr and Professor Laurie Buys from QUT, shared their research work and findings.

Building on Paul and Justine’s narrative of key decisions on the ageing journey, Professor Birch’s work in health economics set the demographic stage for the extension of healthy old age as discussed above. Professor Kerr’s work on the cause and prevention of falls in later age added to the discussion of extended mobility. Jennene Buckley’s application of ubiquitous technology to enable extended independence is exceptional. And Professor Laurie Buys work on the societal impact of longevity challenged us to reconsider what we expect from later life.

From different perspectives, the overall thread of the day was a very strong implication of the rise of a new age-group, which a member of the audience called ‘keen-agers’, which press our idea of old age further and further away, and defy the notion of becoming a burden in old age, but simply an adult with all that implies, all the way until the end of our life. ‘To smoke all the way to butt’ as Laurie put it!

As the panel discussion wrapped up the day one last question was put to the group… How can our design work facilitate choice for the kind of ageing population we’ve described today? The response was emphatic and applauded by all the panel members. The answer was simple, ‘challenge the brief’.