Advice for families and whānau
We spoke to around 100 New Zealanders over the age of 65, and many told us the felt significantly younger than the age on their birth certificate. This is in line with international research which shows that on average, retirees feel between 10 - 20 years younger than their 'actual' age.
We also found that older people are very sensitive to being 'told' what to do (especially if it's presented as being 'for your own good'), do not want to be a burden to their families, and dislike using walking aids (as it makes them feel frail and old).
Our advice to those of you supporting older family members is to be collaborative and understanding if you can see they need help. There are also practical ways you can help:
This checklist will help older people eliminate common trips, slips, and falls hazards around their home. See Home safety assessment checklist.
Discussion checklist – things a health professional will want to know
This checklist will provide your family member with helpful prompts to take to their next doctor’s appointment.
Know the basics
If your friend or relative lives alone, make sure you know:
- where they keep their spare keys
- friends or neighbours names and phone numbers
- their doctors name and phone number
- any health concerns or medications they currently use.
Check in regularly
Older people have told us that sometimes they don’t like to tell their friends and family when they’ve hurt themselves. They don’t want to be a burden, and they like to keep their health private.
To make sure they're safe:
- set up a regular calling schedule
- if you can’t raise them and you’re worried, let yourself in using the spare key
- if you don’t live locally, see if a friend of neighbour can pop over and make sure everything is ok.
Personal medical alarms can provide families with peace of mind. They’re worn or carried by the person, and once activated will send out an alert. There are a number of systems on the market so shop around for one that suits.
Also make sure your friend or family member knows that no one will think they’re a nuisance if they activate it. After a lifetime of looking after other people, they sometimes forget there are people out there who can look after them.
Ministry of Health
Find a list of support services and websites for older people including:
- rest home certification and audits
- links to useful websites and services for older people.
The Ministry of Health has compiled a list of useful websites for older people.