Who Is The Age Of Senescence?
My name is Kirsty Porter and I’ve created The Age of Senescence to share my journey to discover how different countries and cultures around the world are responding to the needs of an ageing population.
I am a qualified nurse in Australia and have been working in the aged care industry for most of my career, both in Australia and the UK. In recent years, I’ve seen how the ageing population in Australia is impacting the nursing profession; and more specifically in residential aged care facilities. It has become obvious to me that the continuous strive for nursing excellence is marred by the more complex needs of the ageing client and their family, as well as increasingly onerous industry regulation.
Why Was The Age of Senescence Created?
I have observed an increasing number of people admitted to residential aged care facilities with greater and more chronically advanced care needs. Family members appear more exhausted from having played the caregivers role for longer than they could cope with or recover from. Staffing morale in aged care facilities is inconsistent between organisations; often resulting in unmanageable turnover rates, and this is leading to increasing difficulties in maintaining adequate, appropriate qualified and experienced staff levels (Dr. Booker researches this at length). Even more concerning is the decreasing government funding to these facilities. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Surely with a greater demand there is opportunity for industry growth? With indelible determination to find out more, in 2014 I enrolled in a Post Graduate in Aged Services Management.
A Post Grad. No big deal. I just wanted to dip my toe in and see what this aged care industry was really all about. However, I came away even more concerned, frustrated and somewhat obsessive about an industry that is crying out for reform. My Post Grad is central to my new transformational ideas, but industry boundaries are prohibitive. Broadly, I want to integrate nonlinearity complex adaptive systems into an age care system that is, quite frankly, limited by sovereign decree.
Hang on, stay with me.
Plainly speaking, I had acquired ‘space-age’ ideas but had no platform to launch them from. And I was annoyed.
But, it was the little mathematical ratio, illustrated in my picture below that really opened my eyes up to the future of age care.
Retired People verses the Working Population Ratio in Australia
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare predicts that by 2050, Australia’s economy will have nearly half the number of people in the workforce supporting the health and welfare of an ageing population that is twice as big as it is today. And that means we, as a society, need to think outside the box if we all want quality retirement choices and a quality end of life care.
I then compared Australia with other developed countries, and the results are similar. Japan is the most concerning comparison as seen in this adaption below.
Our choices for retirement will be, fiscally speaking, reduced. Indeed, the ‘ageing population problem’, that has been so eloquently projected by academics and policy writers alike, suddenly became very real to me. In 2050, I’ll be in my seventies and dare I say it, an economic statistic. I despair as I watch my young children play at my feet, how our retirement life will affect them and their choices?
‘Space-age’ ideas anyone?
Knowing what I know about the aged care sector, I cannot shake the question;
“How are we going to care for each other in the future when, by today’s standards, the system is already over stressed?”
Then the most magical things started happening to me.
Over a period of 2 years, I received messages, web links, books, watched movies and documentaries, witnessed digital disruption, found newspaper clippings, was invited to events and listened to podcasts about people and communities all over the world who were inadvertently answering my question. There were small groups of people proactive in challenging the status quo of getting old, being dependent or living with chronic disabilities. In fact, there were people influencing whole societies to change the way they approached ‘ageing well’ principles and traditional aged care options. And what’s more, they were succeeding!
PEOPLE WERE DOING MORE WITH LESS!
For instance, a brilliant doctor in Leiden, The Netherlands started the ‘re-socialisation’ Alzheimer’s Café™ phenomena; now hailing over 1,000 operating sites in Europe, UK, America, Ireland, Canada and Australia.
Or another example of a Canadian man who, while planning digital music to be included in his own aged care, inadvertently went on to inspire the Music and Memory project that is now widespread in nursing homes across the US, Canada and Australia.
And finally, a woman from Minnesota, USA who was so devastated by the experience of caring for her own mother’s dementia symptoms, went on to build the nationally renowned ‘Lakeview Ranch Model of Specialised Dementia Care’.
There are other smaller examples too, but certainly no less significant. A residential aged care home in Germany created a ‘front of house’ pseudo bus-stop in response to curbing residents with Alzheimer from wandering too far from the facility.
But more on these in future articles.
From all these examples and more, I have learnt just how one person’s idea can impact a whole age care industry, its productivity potential, its commercial outcomes, inspire project enterprises in neighboring countries and, most importantly, it can affect inter-generational socialisation and participation!
Ordinary People with Extraordinary Ideas
People around the world are quite literally bringing the elder generation, especially the most isolated, out of their homes and back into society. What is most alluring is that these are ordinary people, creating extraordinary ideas, and drawing inspiration from the very problems they have encountered while navigating their own cultural aged care system. Interestingly, and more often then not, these ideas have actually created enterprise and business opportunity. Certainly, this is an economic win!
And so it is here that The Age of Senescence is born.
What is The Age of Senescence?
My aim is to create a directory, of sorts, that brings all these stories of innovation, participation and productivity together; with the sole intention to encourage other communities to replicate.
So I have dared myself to stare down the rabbit hole, and teach myself about digital technology, website building, social media and ecommerce. Hilariously, my first Google search was: “What is a domain name?”; a low starting point indeed. And so it begins….
I am not an academic, a doctor or even a recognised specialist in my field. Nor am I a journalist, a representative of an organisation or a government official. But I do however have 20 dynamic years of nursing, sales and marketing experience in both Australia and the United Kingdom, predominately in the aged care. And as I face this new self-imposed career direction with enthusiasm, my writing will undoubtedly come from the heart. I will certainly be guided by you, the audience, while I navigate this vast space I have created for myself.
How Will The Age Of Senescence Work?
Fully enchanted by people who have had the courage to create, the grit to develop and the persistence to launch such creative ageing ideas, I’m inspired to do the same. And now, having created the medium to connect with you, I don’t just want to talk about it; I want to write about it, video it, link it to you, try to emulate it, photograph it and display it here, on The Age of Senescence, to inspire others to see how global communities and organisations are responding to the needs of their ageing population.
Further, through the wonders of digital technology, the genre of blogging and the fashion of social media, we can now communicate and truly connect with like minded people from our own homes.
The Age of Senescence invites you to journey with me as I discover, share and document new responsive technology, literature, innovation and services for the ageing population. And also, ideas about who is inspiring it and why. But more importantly, to instill belief that you too can replicate and develop these ideas into your own ageing community.
I would love to hear from you, especially if you are currently in the throws of navigating your own age care system.
How has the competition for aged care provision affected or improved the quality, access, participation or equity of services in your community or country?
AGEING BETTER TOGETHER
Nurse and Aged Care Enthusiast
MY VIEWS ARE MY OWN AND NOT AFFILIATED WITH ANY OTHER ORGANISATION
NO ROYALTIES RECEIVED OR REQUESTED
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