Much attention is focused on deficiencies in
aged care. However, the need for aged care
is a result of increasing dependency, which
can be separately addressed.
‘Dependent’ is when we can no longer fulfil
our normal functions of daily living without
support. The reasons may be physical
conditions, declining cognitive skills, or both.
Effectively managing dependency is an
important aged care strategy. In later life we
progress through three stages – Able, Less
Able and Dependent. Our personal SHAPE
Analyser results indicate each of these stages
as well as our estimated lifespan. The
Analyser also highlights our responses to
individual questions which show potential for
improving our wellbeing.
These responses provide the basis for actions
in our Longevity Plan. Early action can have a
significant effect on longer term outcomes,
influencing our longevity, how long we
remain Able, how soon we may become
Dependent and to what extent.
Because we become more different from
each other over time, the best actions are
those which reflect us personally. What is
best for us may not be as useful for someone
else. Individual solutions are necessary.
As this table shows, increasing longevity
leads to shorter dependency – a good reason
for acting as soon as possible based on what
we know about ourselves. There are also
|Male Dependant Years
|Female Dependant Years
When do we start?
An example is dementia, which typically
leads to dependency. Research provides
growing evidence that issues in midlife can
influence the onset and severity of dementia
in later life – such as peripheral hearing loss,
obesity, high blood pressure, and excess
alcohol. From age 65 there are factors like
smoking, inactivity, social isolation, diabetes,
and air pollution.
As well affecting dementia, some of these
issues can be disabling or life threatening.
With good health advice, we can take
preventive action – the sooner the better.
With dementia and other serious conditions
of ageing, progress is being made with cures
and treatments. However, it makes lifestyle
and economic sense to take a preventive
approach when available and able to be
Dependency and Aged Care
Effectively managing dependency impacts
our approach to aged care. It also affects
decisions on where we can live, how we
prepare our Advanced Care Directive and
how we discuss these and other issues with
our legally appointed ‘substitute decision
maker’. There are potentially significant
financial impacts. These points are identified,
discussed, and listed for attention in our own
Preparing well for dependency can put us on
track to make the best of the rest of our life.