In this project I am going to discuss the role of the carer/organisations in promoting positive attitudes to ageing and retirement, ethnic and cultural influences on the older person in relation to retirement, how health promotion and therapeutic interventions can enhance quality of life for person after retirement and discus how family members can be included as partners in care for the older person.
I am going to research this topic using the available material on the Internet, newspaper and healthcare articles, books, class notes and my own experience in the healthcare setting.
The task of this assignment is to investigate the general area of life after employment for the older person focussing on the preparation for the retirement and the specific services available to older people such as lifelong learning, education and leisure. The project is going to cover the following topics:
- The role of the carer/organisations in promoting positive attitudes to ageing and retirement
Ageing population – ROI (Source: McGill, P. Illustrating Ageing in Ireland North and South: Key Facts and Figures. Belfast: Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland, 2010)
- At the 2006 census, there were 468,000 people aged 65+ (11% of the population)
- By 2041, there will be 1.4 million aged 65 and over (22% of the population). Life expectancy at birth is 76.8 years for men and 81.6 years for women.
- 95% of men and women aged 70 and over rate their health as very good (19%), good (50%) or fair (26%).
- 9.1% of people aged 65 and over are still in employment (Q2 2009).
Since 2007 Ireland has experienced a faster rate of growth in population aged 65 and older than other EU countries in an increased by 32.8%. As of Wednesday, October 9, 2019, the current population of Ireland is 4,897,558 (based on the Worldometers elaboration of the latest United Nations data).
Ageing is a continuous biological process and though it cannot be stopped or reversed and many are denied it, is a privilege to experience. Healthy ageing means opportunities that good physical, mental, social, spiritual and financial health and also well-being of an ageing person would benefit from. The concept of healthy ageing might be difficult to grasp for some people, especially those who are disabled or physically unfit when they retire. In Ireland, in general people are living longer with many living healthier lives into old age, Unfortunately in order to help them live healthy, fulfilling and active lives, many challenges related to health, social and economic matters still need to be addressed as that trend is not universal across all boards (as per 2007 statistics, the number of years a man was expected to live in poor health had risen from 9.5 to 14.7 and for a woman from 11.3 years to 16.8 years between 1999 and 2007). This increase in longevity is expected to cause serious implications on healthcare demands and expenditure.
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The carers and other healthcare professionals play an important role in advocating positive attitudes to ageing and retirement. They encourage the change in the attitude towards the older people by treating them using a holistic person-centred care approach, with respect, preserving their dignity, promoting independence and choice, promoting active living and good nutrition, helping them deal with stress, empowering them to lead healthy lives, to accept the ageing process with grace, to participate in learning and education, to prevent loneliness and exclusion from society by actively engaging in social events and support groups.
There are various organisations and groups in Ireland responsible for promoting positive ageing. Older and Bolder is an union of eight non-governmental organisations, which aim to combat the view on ageing, opportunities and challenges associated with it, reflect on the diversity of the older people and stand for their rights. Some of those eight organisations promoting positive ageing are:
Active Retirement Ireland– acts as a voice for people over 55 by encourages positive attitude to ageing through organising social, physical, cultural and learning activities within their communities. It promotes older people as independent and active members of the community providing support and training.
Age and Opportunity– promotes involvement in various activities, from arts to physical, challenges ageism in diverse settings like nursing homes, libraries, educational centres, and sport and art organisations.
Irish Senior Citizens Parliament– an autonomous organisation aiming to promote interests of retired and older people
Other organisations involved in promoting positive ageing are:
Friends of the Elderly, which is an Irish volunteer based charity with aim to promote friendship and companionship to elderly people, who are lonely or live alone.
Age Action is the national independent organisation on ageing and older people, acting as a network of organisations and individuals (older people and their carers). Its aim is to improve the quality of life, mainly of those vulnerable and disadvantaged older people and enable them to live independent lives in their own homes.
Alone is a national organisation supporting older people over the age of 60 to age at home. It is supported by volunteers offering a variety of services: Befriending, Housing Support, Support Coordination, Technology and Campaigns for Change. Alone works with individual people offering solutions in conjunctions with available services and also their friends and family.
In March 2005, the Ageing Well Network (ran from 2007 -2013) implemented OPRAH, (Older People Remaining at Home) an action research project implementing changes to support older people living in their own homes, reducing hospital attendance and premature admission to nursing homes.
The HSE’s Health and Wellbeing Division has published a Research Strategy on “Healthy and Positive Ageing for All“ to help support and improve the quality of people’s lives as they age, with HaPAI (Healthy and Positive Ageing Initiative) established to implement it.
In 2013, the Irish government launched and developed The National Positive Ageing Strategy in which they have shown commitment to enhancing and protecting the wellbeing and quality of the older generation.
- Ethnic and cultural influences on the older person in relation to retirement
“Ethnicity is defined as a group of people who identify with each other based on common ancestral, social, cultural, or national experiences” (https://www.dailydot.com/irl/what-is-ethnicity/).
Cultural means “relating to the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a society” (https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/cultural) and originates from the word Culture, which “is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behaviour and norms found in human societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities and habits of the individuals in these groups” ( Wikipedia).
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There are approximately 160 different nationalities currently living in Ireland with a cultural diversity causing challenges within the healthcare sector and affecting people’s lives in some shape and form. Ireland has its own culturally diverse group, the Traveller community at the estimated figure of 22,000 members. Other well established communities are Jewish, Islamic, African, Asian and Chinese. There are over 3000 religious organisations with the main religions being Buddhism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestanism.
It is important to understand the different cultures’ view on ageing and seniority in a multi-cultural environment. Ageing is not only a biological process but very much a cultural one too. Asian and many African countries respects the elders and value seniority by celebrating the ageing process. The Chinese have a duty of care for their ageing family members and treat other senior citizens with respect and dignity. Many Indians live in close family units with the elderly being respected and valued by the younger members of the family and they help looking after their grandchildren. Some cultural societies define the older people as a burden and use a more violent approach to senior care.
In Western cultures unfortunately the elderly are very often removed from the society, seen as senile, incompetent and placed in nursing homes or hospitals. The ageing process is depicted in a negative light and becomes a shameful experience. These cultures value youth and physical beauty and object to ageing gracefully.
Promoting aging gracefully can be quite difficult in some cultures. Aging seems different depending on the skin colour of its ethnic groups. People with darker skin due to a higher level of melanin, seem to age better. The skin of those exposed to the environmental factors because of working outside or coming from economically poorer backgrounds will get damaged faster and age prematurely than of those with easy and healthy lifestyles. There is nothing beautiful about ageism and it is hard to accept with health issues on the rise, aches and pains, arthritis, brittle bones due to osteoporosis, impaired vision, hearing loss, grey hair, wrinkles, loss of mobility etc. The elderly become of less value to the society, forgotten and cast out. Getting old should be appreciated as despite of all the health related issues, not everyone is going to be old as some might die from illnesses or different causes at a young age.
- How health promotion and therapeutic interventions can enhance quality of life for person after retirement
Health promotion is very important in encouraging and helping people to improve and maintain their health and general well-being after retirement. In doing so, it is necessary to focus on the holistic approach, which takes into account the physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual and environmental health needs of the older person. Promotion of living healthier and longer lives and striving for wholeness, needs to be tailored to the needs of an individual person and work closely with public health, primary health care, community development and environmental health. All of the above share common traits like healthy lifestyles, nutritious and well balanced diets thus avoiding obesity, sufficient rest, cessation in alcohol consumption and smoking, stress and mental health awareness and regular general health check-ups. Health Service Executive (HSE) has developed a website specifically related to promoting health in Ireland.
People should carefully prepare for retirement to avoid the sudden void, when their employment comes to an end and they are left with no routine and activities to fill their day with. These factors may contribute to a decline of their mental or physical health. There is a range of services or activities available for the older people to keep them socially and mentally active after retirement, like for example:
- social clubs to remain integrated in society
- taking up new or cultivating old hobbies
- lifelong learning and education promoting access to educational, cultural, spiritual and recreational resources of society to bring self-fulfilment and pursue opportunities
- part-time employment or volunteering in charity shops
- Day Care Centres and Meals on Wheels
Holistic health approach focuses on life and not on illness or any specific part of the body. The holistic patient care or bio-psycho-socio-spiritual care, are now being considered by the healthcare professionals. Some of the holistic treatments available in enhancing the quality of life may include:
- mental exercises to keep the brain active
- meditation to find peace and relaxation
- massage combined with aromatherapy to help with pain, fatigue or mental health issues like anxiety and depression
- music therapy for emotional or mental issues etc.
- pet therapy to enhance the mood and a general feeling of happy
- reminisces therapy to think back of those life moments gone past
- activities involving children
- Discuss how family members can be included as partners in care for the older person
Family plays a fundamental part in the lives of the elderly people. Depending on the family dynamics, one or more members can become caregivers to their loved ones. The role of families in caring for their elderly family members is very significant. Some elderly people living on their own or as residents in nursing homes may feel quite lonely and family visits are important to maintain their quality of life by promoting happiness and well-being. Allowing family members to assist in caregiving gives them the sense of accomplishment, purpose and the feeling of giving something back. They provide care with assessing health and needs of the elderly and support including advocacy or emotional support. They can provide basic hands-on care with tasks like bathing, dressing, feeding or administering medication as they know those they care for better than anyone ese. The family member may not have any close connections with the outside carer other than whatever it is that the carer provides, which could add to their isolation. It is very important that the family member gets some support from their relatives or other healthcare services should caring alone become a burden or too strenuous and could cause health issues.
“Preparation for old age should begin no later than one’s teens. A life which is empty of purpose until 65 will not suddenly become filled on retirement.”
Dwight L. Moody
The ageing process is going to affect everyone. It starts after we are born and continues until we die. Not everyone though will get the privilege to get old. Some people will be denied it because of their life styles, health issues, economic and environmental factors, cultural backgrounds and customs or other unforeseen life circumstances. The world population is ageing fast and a lot of focus is being put on promoting positive ageing, encouraging people to be proactive in preparing for retirement, showing more understanding towards different cultural and ethnic groups as we live in such a diverse environment, treating the elderly with respect and dignity they deserve, ensuring they are part of the community and not the forgotten, which many ethnic groups that place the elderly high in the family ranks could teach us about. Researching these topics have made me more aware of services and organisations that are available for the elderly, how including family members in their care can be beneficial to the well-being of both, what difference being active and part of community can make after retirement and that holistic approach is fundamental in providing person-centred care.
Bibliography and references:
- Learner Resource Pack, Care of the Older Person
- Healthcare Support: A Textbook for Healthcare Assistants, College of Progressive Education, Edited by Imelda Duffy, 2008
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