Combat Barriers to Confident Ageing
Everyone has the right to age confidently without the fear of losing a sense of self or the autonomy to make lifestyle and wellbeing choices reflecting your individual needs and wants.
Ageing is just another way of saying growing and learning. We grow and learn from the day we are born and will continue to do so every minute of every day for the rest of our lives.
Living a long and fruitful life should be seen as one of our greatest achievements. Another milestone to experience, learn from and then impart what we learn to benefit the other generations. Sadly, globally and nationally, ageing is falsely perceived as something to fear, and aged people as lesser in value and less deserving than younger people.
It is this cultural perception of ageing that depletes our confidence, generates loneliness, and isolates us from our communities. It affects our ability to ask for help and support for fear of judgement or loss of autonomy.
Our aim is to combat the negative effects to our health and wellbeing associated with ageism and the stereotyping of our ageing population.
What are the barriers to confident ageing?
Seeing older people as all the same
This is no typical older person. Ageism refers to stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination based on age. In essence, it is how we think, how we feel and how we act towards others. When directed at older people, it comes from negative attitudes and beliefs about what it means to grow old. (Older Person Advocacy Network)
Disturbingly, research finds that ageism is the most accepted form of prejudice in Australia.
Making age-based assumptions about people can affect the medical treatment they receive, employment opportunities and prejudices the way society views them and their legal rights.
Confidence to age well requires a person to feel they are heard and acknowledged as individuals with individual needs and wants regarding their health and well-being.
Current research confirms that ageism, stereotyping and false assumptions have serious and wide-ranging consequences for older people. Negative consequences such as
- perceived loss of value
- poorer physical and mental health
- increased risk of loneliness and social isolation
- greater financial insecurity,
- decreased quality of life
- premature death.
Feeling alone and disconnected
Human beings at any age are social creatures. It is the connection to others which enables us to survive and thrive.
Social connection, together with participation in meaningful activities and leisure pursuits, gives us purpose, self-value and strengthens our resilience to accept and adapt to change
Loneliness and social isolation can occur at any time for many reasons, including loss of personal relationships, connections, loss of purpose and self worth.
The difference between Loneliness and Being Alone
It is important to note that loneliness is the feeling of being alone, regardless of the amount of social contact.
Alone and lonely sound similar, but have very different meanings. You can be on your own and perfectly content. Alternatively, you can be surrounded by people and still feel lonely
Some people are alone because they have lost social contacts. Other may feel alone because they no longer feel safe and emotionally connected to the people around them.
To not feel lonely or disconnected takes more than the presence of others. It requires us to feel we belong and are valued by the people we engage with.
The impacts of loneliness and social islation to our health
Combatting loneliness and social isolation is essential because research shows that it significantly effects our health and wellbeing. Loneliness and social isolations is associated with the onset of:
- Falls and injury
- Cognitive decline
- High blood pressure
- Weakened immune system
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- General life dissatisfaction
To age well, we all need the opportunity to engage in meaningful social engagement; this is one of Charlie’s Gifts primary purposes.
An inability to access timely and relevant information and resources
To feel empowered – is to have the knowledge, confidence, means, or ability to do things or make informed decisions for oneself. We have all heard the phrase “knowledge is power”, but too much knowledge/or information is just more confusing.
In today’s digital world, it is not difficult to source information. What is often tricky is sourcing credible and relevant information without wasting time and getting lost in a rabbit hole of content. To search for information, you also need to know what you are looking for. Sometimes we don’t know what is available, how it will personally benefit us, or who provides it. There is so much information spread across the digital platforms. Often it is difficult to know where to go to find the information you are looking for.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by not knowing who to trust or where to start? Or thought that the information available does not reflect you or your needs? You are not alone.