Because older New Zealand bears the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic, an Otago researcher warns that there needs to be an emphasis on addressing the needs of future parents and to help reduce aging inequality.
Otago University scientist, Association Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie, also director of the National Science Challenge Aging Well, one of the 11 national science challenges in the country.
He highlighted the fact that this pandemic disproportionately affected older New Zealanders who had experienced the most stringent social distance guidelines along with significant suffering and impact – most of the 22 people who died from COVID-19 in New Zealand aged over 70 year.
“Somehow, the media has negatively described our older citizens, taking hospital beds and stressing their vulnerability. This is dangerous,” said Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie.
“Most of the parents (parents) are stoic and tenacious. They indifferently share that they have endured worse and they will get through this too. They don’t complain about not getting takeaways, needing fancy coffee or wanting to party with friends. They carry on life and things that really matter. “
But because the number of older adults in New Zealand is expected to double in the next 20 years, Otago scientists with a special interest in Parkinson’s disease, advocating for continued funding for quality research among this age group to ensure it is culturally safe and fair care for all older New Zealanders.
In a recent study published in a US journal Gerontologist, Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie said that currently research that focuses on older New Zealanders is fragmented and only partially addressed in other priorities such as non-communicable diseases.
“A significant risk is that research on the health and well-being of older New Zealanders can fall between priorities, which in turn leads to the delivery of uncoordinated health services.”
Despite publicly funded health and welfare support for elderly citizens, the aging experience is very different between ethnic groups with Māori dying seven years younger than other ethnicities.
Projected growth in the population of New Zealand older (aged over 65) over the next 20 years is greater for ethnic Māori (130 percent), Pacific (120 percent) and Asian (190 percent) than Pākehā (50 percent).
“This population change has been projected for decades, but it is rarely discussed,” Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie explained.
“For example, we need more care facilities in housing. We need flexible and responsive policies that allow families to support and then care for, older members the way they want. One size rarely fits all.”
Preliminary findings from a recent study funded by Aging Well found that New Zealanders who move to retirement villages are older and weaker, in parallel, the aging housing care sector has changed dramatically since the Government’s national funding model was implemented more than 20 years ago .
“People will be treated in old age, with a variety of long-term conditions and dependencies related to disabilities that require special care, 24 hours,” said Associate Professor Parr-Brownlie.
“The number of older Māori and Pacific people living in retirement villages and care of elderly living areas is very low – the majority of the population is currently of European descent. This difference means that the needs of Māori and the Pacific are underestimated and services that are culturally appropriate and limited difficult to access. “
We must continue to advocate for policy changes in all sectors of health and well-being, socioeconomic, justice and education to address the roots of aging inequality, he said.
“Once this is achieved, all older New Zealanders will receive culturally appropriate care, facilitating force-based positive aging.”
Louise C Parr-Brownlie et al. Aging in New Zealand: Ka haere ki te ao pakeketanga, Gerontologist (2020). DOI: 10.1093 / geront / gnaa032
The health and well-being of older New Zealanders must be the focus of post-COVID: Otago researchers (2020, 22 June)
taken June 22, 2020
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