Many older Australians who feel underappreciated and like a burden on society may be misguided, as a new survey reveals Australians actually have a positive attitude towards people aged over 70.
More than nine in 10 also feel that older Australians are valuable to society and almost all respondents rejected negative attitudes towards older people, saying that society has an obligation to care for and look them.
A survey of 10,000 Australian adults conducted by Roy Morgan on behalf of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety asked Australians about attitudes towards ageing and aged care, including what they would want should they eventually need aged care themselves.
Almost half of the respondents said the federal government should provide support services for older people to continue living independently in their own homes and pay for any higher-level care services when needed.
Overall, the perception of residential aged care was negative.
Of the 84 per cent of those who have visited a residential aged care facility during their life, most said the residents looked lonely, do not have control over their lives and are not happy.
The upside was that they at least had access to medical care and are housed comfortably.
Half of the respondents weren’t sure if residents received sufficient help with daily activities. The same number was unsure as to whether residents were respected, and whether there were enough activities to keep them occupied and engaged.
Interestingly, those who had visited an aged care facility at least once had a slightly more positive perception than those who’d never visited.
In fact, knowledge of the aged care system on the whole was poor, with fewer than one in 10 aware of My Aged Care and most thinking the government’s contribution towards aged care sits at around 60 per cent or less, when it is actually around 78 per cent.
Eight in 10 Australians would prefer to age in place rather than at a facility. If they did need support or care, just over one in 10 said they would downsize from their current house to a smaller dwelling and six per cent would move nearer to family or friends.
Only 25 per cent said they would actually live in a residential aged care facility.
Older Australians who want to live independently would prefer to be looked after by family and friends, preferring higher-level assistance to be provided by aged care service providers.
Respondents also believe the government should provide more funding for in-home care.
Older Australians living at home had a very positive view of their lives, with more than 90 per cent seeing themselves as healthy and able to take care of themselves, and 85 per cent feeling physically capable of doing the things in life they like to do and having the freedom to spend time doing those things.
Over three-quarters believed they had enough money to live comfortably and almost all said they make lifestyle choices to keep themselves healthy – contrary to what younger Australians anticipate for themselves at the same age.
Older people were more positive when they socialised with other older people. The one in 10 who were more socially isolated were generally more pessimistic about having enough money to live comfortably, and about their physical and mental health.
How do you feel about your life? Do you feel you don’t match the societal stereotypes of older people? Do you even feel that there are stereotypes of older people?
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