Esther Consedine, General Manager of Elder Family Matters and a Karori resident, spoke at our meeting on 28 November. Elder family Matters provides support and care for elder people at home or the place they call home in a village or independent living environment.
The demographics of ageing are compelling: the 65+ age group has doubled since 1981, and will double again in the next 30 years. With this change has come an awareness that the needs of this group are becoming much more diverse, with elder people increasingly wishing to be active, socially engaged, and often continuing in paid or unpaid employment.
The meaning of 'growing old' is changing.
At the same time, the ability of elder people to access and exploit these opportunities continues to be constrained by factors such as income, health, housing and transport. With greater longevity, there will be an increase in conditions such as dementia that affect older people.
The retirement village sector in New Zealand is responding with more diverse services for residents and with specialist care facilities. At the same time, the majority of older New Zealanders would still wish to live in their own accomodation and look after themselves as much as possible.
Innovate solutions include cohousing, where private homes are clustered around shared facilities. This encourages intergenerational mixing and sharing of the responsibilities of home ownership and maintenance. In some cases, elder people choose to directly share their home with younger people.
Elder Family Matters is a part of this evolving mix of living options, focusing on providing companionship, care and support for elder people who continue to live at home but require assistance.