As we near the end of the year, I’d like to take the opportunity to recognise and celebrate the efforts of those who have provided support and care to older people during the year.
This includes unpaid care by whānau, as well as support and care provided by community networks, home and community support services and aged residential care.
It’s impossible to quantify the value older people bring to our communities. What we enjoy today is a legacy of their contributions. Older people share wisdom and experience, contribute to our economy and are hugely important to the wellbeing of our whānau.
Ageing well is underpinned by quality health and disability care which meets changing needs over time. Having an integrated continuum of care enables older people to maintain their dignity, safeguard their autonomy and contribute to their communities. Social connection is also linked to better health outcomes for older people.
Hearing from older people during the year has highlighted some critical gaps in the continuum of care for them and I remain committed to amplifying these issues in the future. It has also highlighted that the lived experiences of older people are essential to developing innovative models of care that meet the needs of our rapidly aging population.
Over the year I have been privileged to meet numerous people who are passionate about delivering great care for older people, often in the context of workforce pressures and budget constraints. I’ve also met whānau who provide hours of care every day to support loved ones to live with dignity and independence.
Before we head into 2024, I encourage everyone to take the opportunity to recognise and celebrate the work of those who have provided care for older people over the year. Their care makes a world of difference to older people, their whānau and our communities.
This holiday season, with its celebrations and get togethers, is also an important time to stay connected to older people in your communities who may need your support to deal with chronic or acute health issues and/or social isolation.
Kia noho ora tonu ngā kaumātua.
Older people deserve to lead valued, connected and fulfilling lives
 Research, published in the Dementia Economic Impact Report 2020 for Alzheimer’s New Zealand, suggests that family carers provide over a million hours of unpaid care a week for those living with dementia mate wareware. This is just a percentage of the care that is being delivered every day for older people.