Helping our ageing population
As we age, the challenges of living at home increase.
Tasks that were once simple, such as grocery shopping or simply getting to an appointment, can become as tough as climbing mountains, particularly if you live at home alone.
Southland - and New Zealand - has an ageing population. The number of people over the age of 65 will double in the next 20 years to around 1.2 million in 2036 (around 23 per cent of the population, compared with 14 per cent today) and more older people will live alone in the community. While those figures are taken from the Ministry of Social Development, anecdotally there are already a much larger percentage of older people living alone in Southland.
At Enliven, people are coming into homes much older and more frail than in the past, and our home-based support service SupportLink is seeing continual increases in clients.
Over the years, new criteria for rest home living has been introduced with the focus being on supporting older people to remain in their own home.
The good news is that community organisations are adjusting to this shift. At Enliven, we understand that older people want to remain independent - and there is a huge amount of support out there for those who require it.
SupportLink is one such (free) service that offers support to older people living in their own home. It matches specifically trained volunteers with older people living in the community and provides different types of assistance depending on individual needs. Whether it’s transport to appointments, help with shopping or regular friendship and companionship - it’s all part of the service.
SupportLink is about providing a social element to older people in the community, as opposed to providing in-home care which is a service a number of other organisations provide. We also run hugely popular coffee groups for older people in Invercargill, Gore and Queenstown. At Enliven, we believe some things make for healthier, happier living, no matter what your age or ability.
If you could benefit from the support offered by SupportLink, or are interested in volunteering, visit www.enlivensld.nz or phone 03 211 2800.
Lynn Morton is Enliven’s community services manager.