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Where is the follow up for our elderly and most vulnerable?

30 Jan 2018

I read with interest a press release by the Federal Minister for Aged Care, The Hon Ken Wyatt AM regarding an Australian Government-funded Frailty in Community Dwelling Older People – Using Frailty Screening as the Canary in the Coal Mine study.  According to the research, older Australian women are most at risk of frailty and it highlights how a simple online test and a series of simple interventions can help senior Australians maintain their independence and improve their health.

The Minister states that by taking the simple FRAIL five-point online test and following up with your GP as necessary, this will give you the opportunity to detect frailty before it hits enabling you take action to live better lives, remain in their own homes for longer avoid hospitalisation.

While the test appears to offer useful pointers and information, we would ask when someone is classified as frail, where is the follow up? It is all well and good having these indicators, but with My Aged Care packages few and far between, especially in the Northern Territory, how long must our elderly and most vulnerable seniors wait for adequate assistance? 

Safe, simple, inexpensive, practical interventions suggested – slightly patronisingly perhaps – by this study included eating more proteins, taking Vitamin D supplements, increasing activity (including light resistance activities and walking) and evaluation prescription medication intake with your GP.

Whilst Vitamin D and lamb chops aren’t in our program, take a look at COTA NT’s activity schedules and the Territory Seniors Calendar online on the COTA website. They provide information about COTA, local government, aged care providers and community group sessions which provide supervised exercise programs. Many of these are designed to help seniors improve mobility, exercise safely and gently, improve and increase strength, balance, flexibility and well-being, maintain bone density and strengthen muscles. Costs vary between programs.

Sue Shearer, CEO COTA NT 

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