The art of living a good life in old age

CARING: Project co-ordinator Kir Larwill with research participant Gary Thompson. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

CARING: Project co-ordinator Kir Larwill with research participant Gary Thompson. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

DISABILITY service Amicus is exploring what factors lead to a good life in older age.

Ageing well project co-ordinator Kir Larwill said as people crept towards retirement, it was important they planned for the next chapter of their lives.

"There's research that says to age well you have to plan now," she said.

"It's about thinking about how life will be later on."

For the past 12 months Ms Larwill has been conducting research about what people with disabilities were concerned about as they aged.

She said participants' hopes and fears were common ones; including the desire for a stable home and wanting to feel connected to the community.

But she said there were some unique challenges faced by people with disabilities as well.

People who were cared for by their elderly parents had to establish where they would live when their parents died, for example.

And people who had been using a particular service for a long period of time may find it is no longer suitable.

She said Amicus would help people prepare for the impending changes.

"It might be that we have five or six people with disabilities and their families sharing ideas about how they want to spend their later years," she said. "You need to have a lot of preparatory talks with families."

She said research showed people with disabilities were happiest when integrated into the wider community.

She said Amicus could help its clients find activity groups in Bendigo they would enjoy attending.

Ms Larwill's research focused on six key themes, consisting of uniqueness, being in control, optimism, belonging, contribution and engagement and health.

She said people needed to talk openly about their aspirations as they aged.

"There's a lot of talk that needs to happen about getting older," she said.

She said the next step would involve making individual plans for older people with disabilities and helping them implement them.

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