SNOWY RIVER SHIRE SOCIAL PLAN 2005 - 2009 OLDER PEOPLE CHAPTER 7

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					SNOWY RIVER SHIRE SOCIAL PLAN 2005 - 2009



CHAPTER 7 OLDER PEOPLE

7.1      Demographics in Snowy River

The table below shows the number of older people (aged 55 years and over in
accordance with the Department of Local Government definition of this target
group).

Older people         (55 years plus)

 Older people      Number      % Snowy River           % NSW       Male    Female
   55 plus
1996
                     1002              16.7                        576       429
2001                 1567              20.3             19.6       847       720

Snowy River differs somewhat from the norm in its population distribution curve,
with relatively fewer older people than are to be found in other areas.




Source        South East Area Consultative Committee    John Dedman 2004




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SNOWY RIVER SHIRE SOCIAL PLAN 2005 - 2009


Nor are there as many baby boomers as are found elsewhere. The big bulge in
Snowy River is further down the track in the 25-45 year olds. This means of
course that the ageing population issue is simply delayed for a few years. This is
illustrated in the chart above

The small numbers of older people in the shire may be due in part to the severity
of the climate, which discourages some older local residents from staying.

It may also be due in part to the relative lack of aged care services (relative to
metropolitan and coastal areas.) It is almost certainly attributable to a significant
extent to the poor access to higher level medical services and facilities.

There is also an historical element to the demographic picture in Snowy River
shire, associated with the construction of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric
Scheme. During the course of the construction two of the shire’s major towns
were flooded. Residents in both Jindabyne and Adaminaby were given the
choice of being re-located to the new town or receiving compensation. Many took
the latter option and moved away from the area. In this way, a significant
proportion of what would now be the older generation was lost to these two
towns.

7.2      Statewide trends – comparison with Snowy River

Older people made up 13% of the state's population in 2003, according to a
new snapshot of people in New South Wales aged 65 years and over jointly
released in October 2004 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the NSW
Department of Disability, Ageing and Home Care.

There were more older women (495,100) than men (394,400). This disparity
increased with age, with women representing over two-thirds (69%) of people
aged 85 years and over.

•     This is not true in Snowy River.As noted in discussion in other sections on the
      demographics of the shire, there is a gender imbalance in Snowy River, with
      a preponderance of males over females, even in the older age groups. This
      trend runs counter to the norm in the remainder of NSW.

Older people live independent and active lives due to improved health and life
expectancy and are involved in a wide range of social, leisure and community
activities. In 2002, about 20% of all older people provided support to relatives,
and a similar proportion volunteered in welfare and community activities.
Grandparents provided care for 18% of all children aged 0-11 years.
• However this high participation in volunteering is not true of the situation in
    Snowy River shire where there are very few extended families, and the
    scarcity of volunteers is a concern to community service agencies which rely
    on them.



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SNOWY RIVER SHIRE SOCIAL PLAN 2005 - 2009



Most older people reported having regular contact with family and friends and
many kept physically active by walking (19%), playing lawn bowls (6%), golf
(6%), swimming (4%) and aerobics (4%). Almost two-thirds (65%) of older people
attended cultural venues, including cinemas, libraries and botanic gardens.
• In Snowy River Shire older people participate in a wide range of sporting
    activities, including skiing and sailing – hydro therapy and exercise programs
    for targeted older people. However there is little available in terms of the
    cultural venues and activities described here

Most older people continue to live in private households (94%), with around two-
thirds living in family households, usually with their partner.

Although most older people experienced some sort of long-term health condition,
in 2001 two-thirds of NSW older people rated their own health as good to
excellent. More than 90% did not smoke or drink alcohol, or only consumed
alcohol at a low risk level.

The most common long-term health conditions reported were eyesight problems
(81%), arthritis (48%), hypertension (41%), other circulatory diseases (33%) and
hearing problems (33%).
• In Snowy River health and community workers report a high level of
   depression in older people, associated with social isolation and loss of
   physical capacity. It is not necessarily reported, or documented or treated
   through the mental health system.

Most older people were retired and dependent on government benefits as their
principal source of income. Older people had lower incomes than other age
groups, although they tended to have higher assets through equity in dwellings,
superannuation or other savings.
• In Snowy River there is more of a mix – younger older people tend to be self
    funded superannuants and part pensioners. Old locals tend to be aged
    pension recipients.

In 2002, older people had lower levels of household consumer debt and financial
stress than other age groups.


7.3    Issues and concerns - Well aged people aged 55 plus

There is now a different perception of what constitutes an “older person”. At 55
many people in Snowy River, as elsewhere, are still in employment either full or
part-time and only just beginning to consider retirement options. They
themselves have no need for services for older people – although they may well
be looking at options for their elderly parents who have joined them, or for respite




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SNOWY RIVER SHIRE SOCIAL PLAN 2005 - 2009


as carers for these older people. This in fact is quite widespread throughout the
shire.

As noted elsewhere in the demographic analysis of the shire there is a significant
number of “sea changers” moving to the mountains. These early retirees are fit
and healthy and intent on having a good time. Like those in the workforce still,
they make no demands on support services.

This demographic has the potential to re-invigorate existing service clubs and
community organisations such as Lions, Country Womens Association, Red
Cross, Senior Citizens etc. They may also form the nucleus of more specific
interest organisations such as Soroptimists, University of the New Age etc, which
have not yet established in Snowy River.

However, as yet, these groups of “younger” older people have not demonstrated
a tendency to be “joiners”. Existing service clubs and community groups, other
than the Jindabyne Branch of the Country Womens Association have not seen
any significant increase in membership, or expansion in the range of activities
undertaken. Nor are they coming to the fore as community leaders

The issues for this demographic lie a few years further down the track. As they
age and/or become ill, they will need access to medical and other services. Their
problems will be exacerbated if they are far from family and do not have
established networks of mutual support – networks which are most commonly
achieved through membership of clubs, churches, interest groups etc.

Amongst the older age group (ie those aged 70 and over) social isolation is
already a problem for many people. The Snowy Mountains Scheme has had a
long-term social impact over and above its effects on the demographics of the
area. The opening up of the mountains and the flooding of Jindabyne and
Adaminaby by the Scheme set the scene for the development of the mass ski
industry. This has had the effect of alienating many of those people who chose to
stay on. Not only did they lose their old town, but they now find that the new town
they were given has been overtaken by city folk and tourists with whom they
share little common ground.

This is not to say that the picture is all bad. In fact the injection of new blood in to
the area, most noticeably in Jindabyne and the lakeside villages around
Eucumbene, has brought a “value added” dimension to the lives of other long
time residents of similar age.

7.4    Issues and concerns - Frail aged people and those over 70

The situation for the “older” or frail aged members of the community is quite
different from that of the younger group. Programs and services for the frail aged
and their carers are relatively plentiful in Snowy River in comparison with



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SNOWY RIVER SHIRE SOCIAL PLAN 2005 - 2009


services for other sectors of the population (although not compared with services
available to older people elsewhere in the state).

These facilities and services are funded predominantly through the state and
federal government with a substantial contribution also being made by Council.
There is a 14 unit Aged Care Residential Facility (Snowy River Hostel) located in
Berridale and a range of other services which enable older people to remain
independently in their own homes for as long as possible.

These other services include transport, assistance with meals and housework,
personal care, home and yard maintenance and modification and activity
programs for older people and/or their carers as appropriate. The services are
delivered flexibly and are tailored to meet the individual needs of each client.

As noted elsewhere the Multi-Service Outlet model of service provision was
developed co-operatively by Snowy River Shire Council and the Department of
Community Services to meet the specific needs of this area. The model takes
into account not only the particular service requirements of the target population,
but also a methodology for delivering service to a small population scattered over
a large geographic area with no public transport.

The following issues have been identified either by service providers or through
community consultation. Whilst it is a comprehensive list, it is by no means
exhaustive.

   •   A high rate of depression which is not necessarily diagnosed or treated
       and is due to one of more of the following: change; loss of physical
       capacity; loss of independence; loss of spouse, change in medical
       conditions, lack of social support etc
   •   Particular issues for old farm people – particularly those from traditional
       “landed gentry” where families have moved away or there is a lack of
       family support/communication. This can be seen as a cultural issue – a
       culture of independence and pride peculiar to that generation
   •   Social isolation and a lack of cultural/social options
   •   Lack of a range of services especially medical, accommodation and other
       support type; exacerbated by harsh climate.
   •   Shrinkage of locally delivered health services and trend towards
       centralisation of services. This particularly impacts on older people with
       chronic health problems
   •   Changes over the last 5 years for people receiving HACC and other
       funded services. Eligibility criteria have become more stringent and
       services may no longer be readily available to people who formerly
       received them
   •   Lack of accommodation options. There are no retirement villages or self
       care units



OLDER PEOPLE
SNOWY RIVER SHIRE SOCIAL PLAN 2005 - 2009


  •   Shortage of hostel and nursing home beds (no nursing home within the
      shire – only in Cooma or Bombala); lack of dementia specific residential care
  •   People on farms not wanting to move into town.
  •   inadequate respite services (range and availability)
  •   inadequate transport
  •   lack of ownership/sense of belonging/connectedness (in Jindabyne in particular)




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