By: Andrew Bracey
Ensuring a high level of health for Australia’s ageing population requires a greater national focus, experts said.
Principal scientist in strategy and foresight at the Commonwealth Science and industrial Research Organisation, Dr Stefan Hajkowicz, said negative attitudes toward Australia’s elderly population were limiting efforts to encourage and facilitate healthy ageing.
“If Australia’s over-65 age group were seen as an asset to society, attitudes would shift and we’d see greater innovation from industry and new solutions,” Hajkowicz said.
Also speaking at the event, hosted by SPC ProVital, was head of rheumatology at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital, professor David Hunter. He highlighted the impact rising rates of musculoskeletal diseases such as osteoarthritis are already having on Australia’s health system.
“Osteoarthritis of the hand is particularly common,” he said. “Most of us take for granted the daily activities we use our hands for – tying our shoelaces, opening our food or using a knife or fork. To someone who suffers arthritis, these seemingly simple tasks can be incredibly difficult and painful.”
Summing up the panel’s general concerns around the lack of access to healthy nutritious food many seniors face, Hunter said it was vital that “in a hospital or an aged-care facility, every meal should be an opportunity for patients to consume maximum nutrition”.
He added that the launch of food delivery and packaging innovations – such as SPC’s newly launched fruit cup packaging designed to be easier to open for Australia’s ageing population – was a “step in the right direction”.