An innovative approach to eldercare

Dr Emi Kiyota speaking at the recent InnovFest 2014.

When you get older, you may need eldercare assistance. With this in mind, where would you prefer to live – in a hospital-like setting, in a hotel-like setting or within your own home amongst a familiar community? These three choices reveal the transition in eldercare models, and how we are now moving towards a new model, what I call the ‘Ibasho’ concept.

With the traditional institutional model, seniors are cared by medical professionals in an efficient, hygienic and safe hospital-like setting. However, seniors often do not want to be viewed as ‘patients’, so this led to the hospitality model, where seniors live in hotel-like environments, benefiting from personalised care. This ‘too-perfect’ scenario was also not ideal, as seniors had no familiarity or control over their environment.

This has led to the Ibasho model, a holistic, integrated concept, where people age within their familiar community, involving a range of people, such as family, medical professionals, caregivers, neighbours and other elders. Elders are now viewed as useful members of the community – people who can contribute their wisdom and experience, rather than as a patient or unwanted burden. This requires a social mindset change in the way elders are perceived and cared for.

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Not all siblings become caregivers

Siblings are not equally involved in caregiving when their ageing parents start needing care. In 75 percent of all cases, only one adult child will become a caregiver. Mothers are primarily cared for by their daughters, whereas sons continue to be less willing to become the sole caregivers for their parents.

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The ultimate retirement bucket list

Seeing the Northern Lights, buying a dog and travelling around the country by train are just some of the things on the average retiree’s bucket list. A survey of 2,000 people from the UK has revealed a top 50 list of all the ambitions people have for the years after they leave work.

Doing the things they wanted to for ages

As well as hiking around the world to nine different locations, some adults wish to spend their later years tending to an allotment while others want to track down long-lost relatives. Some die-hard romantics dream of revisiting their original honeymoon destination or renewing their wedding vows. But others are fed up with their existing relationships, and plan to have an affair with a younger man or woman when they get the chance.

The majority of people see retirement as an opportunity to fulfil all the dreams they’ve held for years and years, but haven’t had time to carry out.

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A life cycle that includes the “Fourth Age”

We often hear about the Third Age, but rarely do we hear about the “Fourth Age”.

Ageless Voice speaks to Choo Jin Kiat, executive director of voluntary welfare organisation in Singapore, O’Joy Care Services, about what it is and why it is important:

O'Joy's Health Oriented Ageing (HOA) programme.

What is the Fourth Age?

The Fourth Age is when people become dependent, either physically or mentally, on other people. Sometimes this age is called the old-old group (the Third Age focuses on the young-old where they are still healthy and active) and also includes the oldest-old – those in their 90s and above. I look at this as a life cycle; when you are born and your parents look after you, and then you grow up. As you get older, and get into the Fourth Age, you come back to being looked after.

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When’s the perfect age to retire?

When is the best time to retire? It’s never an easy decision as there are so many factors to take into consideration – finances, health, family, etc. Even when you do decide, there can sometimes be a nagging doubt that you might have been better off doing it differently.

UK’s Engage Mutual Assurance did a survey last year of 1,500 people (average age of respondents was 59) to find out the answer. Most people (93 percent) agreed that retirement should happen after the age of 50. The answer that most people gave as the perfect retirement age was 60. Said Engage Mutual, “This fits with the current retirement age for women, but is younger than that for men – and significantly out of step with Government plans to raise the retirement age to 67 by 2028.”

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