Guest Post


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

New technology, winter weather and mobility: key issues affecting our elderly

In today’s world, there are many issues which affect us all on a day-to-day basis. For most of us, they’re easy to cope with but this isn’t always the case for the elderly. As a more vulnerable demographic, these individuals need extra care and consideration at times and here are some of the key issues currently affecting them.

New technology

The rise of the internet and the advent of smartphones and other high-tech devices is well documented but just how does it affect the elderly? There is a split opinion here with some people feeling the elderly are resistant to change while others acknowledge that the systems have infiltrated all age groups; albeit in varying ways.

The key issue here is that a lack of education and financial support means not all elderly individuals can use these services to their full potential. Over in Australia, the state’s peak health group has issued a plea to telecommunication giants including Telstra and Optus to subsidise the costs of internet access for the elderly.

According to their research, people aged 65 years or over who have internet access at home are more likely to avoid social isolation by volunteering, being active in their local community and staying in touch with their family.

Unfortunately, despite the benefits, internet penetration figures for those in the upper age brackets aren’t as high as authorities would like. In Victoria, 43% of those aged over 75 years have internet at home – a figure which jumps to a staggering 98% for those aged between 18 and 24 years.

Whether telecommunications firms will get on board with this new idea or not, and whether it is something which begins to affect other nations including the UK, is yet to be seen but it’s certainly a key issue for those more mature in years.

Winter weather

A recurring issue for elderly individuals is that of winter weather. With numerous stories about energy prices and poor heating, not to mention tales about elderly people becoming confined to their homes due to wintry showers, it’s hardly surprising that this is being made a priority by those in positions of power.

The York Press recently reported on how changes to the city’s gritting network could leave elderly and disabled people trapped in their homes once snowy and icy weather hits. As much as 30 miles of road have been removed from the local council’s “primary” gritting list as part of measures to try and save £60,000 and this will mean they’ll only be gritted during severe weather rather than being treated in sub-zero temperatures.

Mobility and care

Another key issue for the elderly is undoubtedly over their health, mobility and care provisions as they age. Social care for elderly individuals has been a big talking point for the UK Government but local communities are also making it a key focus.

In a poll of Derbyshire taxpayers, care homes were one of the things which the community wanted prioritised as the council attempts to save a staggering £157 million by 2018 through spending cuts. This emphasises how local communities are putting the safety and health of their most vulnerable citizens first.

This could mean looking for home aids to increase access around properties and buildings – for items like stairlifts UK suppliers offer a great selection of options – or having more drastic renovations completed to widen access points to homes, add rails and supports and heighten key areas such as toilets, seats and beds.

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