Chronic pain is a significant health concern among seniors in Australia. As the sun sets on their remarkable lives, chronic pain emerges as an ever-present companion, casting a shadow over their golden years. If you live with chronic pain, it can have a profound impact on your quality of life, functional abilities, and overall well-being. But then, there is a way to ease your load!
Today, we’ll take a look at the current state of chronic pain for seniors in Australia and also go on to uncover a most useful tip on how to manage your chronic pain as a senior.
The prevalence of chronic pain in seniors in Australia
Australia, like many other developed countries, has been experiencing a demographic shift towards an aging population. This is primarily due to increased life expectancy and declining birth rates. Recent data show that around 16% of the Australian population, an estimated 4.2 million, was aged 65 and over. This is a significant increase from 2.1 million (12%) in 1995 and is still expected to increase even more in the coming years, to between 21% and 23% of the total population by 2066.
The challenge is that chronic pain affects a substantial proportion of older Australians. Reports suggest that at least 1 in 5 Australians aged 45 and over are living with persistent, ongoing pain. However, further data indicate that this is even more common among seniors, with estimates ranging from 30% to 50%. This is a major issue as it interferes with daily activities, work, and social interactions. And it costs quite a fortune to manage this condition. In 2018 alone, chronic pain cost an estimated $139 billion in Australia, mostly through reduced quality of life and productivity losses.
The current state of healthcare for seniors in Australia
The Australian healthcare system provides a range of services and programs specifically designed for seniors. These services aim to ensure the well-being and quality of life for older Australians. As we take a look at the current state of chronic pain for seniors in Australia, we explore some healthcare supports available to Australian seniors that can help them deal with chronic pain.
Government initiatives and supports
Here are some Government Initiatives and Supports through which seniors can receive care for chronic pain in Australia:
1. Disability Support Pension (DSP): The DSP is an income support payment provided by the Australian government to individuals with a permanent physical, intellectual, or psychiatric condition that affects their ability to work. Seniors who meet the eligibility criteria and have a disability that prevents them from participating in substantial employment may be eligible for the DSP. The payment amount is means-tested and takes into account income and assets.
2. National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS): The NDIS is a comprehensive support scheme that provides funding and support for individuals with significant and permanent disability. While the NDIS primarily targets individuals under the age of 65, seniors who develop a disability after the age of 65 may still be eligible for NDIS support. The scheme aims to provide personalised support and services that enable individuals with disabilities, including seniors, to participate in daily activities and achieve their goals.
3. Medicare: Australia has a universal healthcare system called Medicare, which provides essential medical services to all Australian citizens and permanent residents. Medicare covers a range of services, including doctor visits, hospital care, and some prescription medications. Seniors can access these services through their Medicare card.
4. Aged Care Services: The Australian government offers various aged care services to support seniors in different settings, depending on their needs. These services include:
- Home Care Packages: Seniors who prefer to live at home can receive assistance with services such as personal care, domestic help, nursing, and allied health services through home care packages.
- Residential Aged Care: For seniors who require a higher level of care, residential aged care facilities provide accommodation, nursing care, personal assistance, and social activities.
- Respite Care: This service allows caregivers to take a temporary break from their caregiving responsibilities while their loved one stays in a residential aged care facility or receives assistance at home.
5. Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS): Seniors can access medications at a subsidised cost through the PBS. Under the PBS, the government subsidises the cost of many prescription medications, making them more affordable for all Australians, including seniors.
6. Aged Pension: The Australian government provides income support to eligible seniors through the Aged Pension. The pension amount is means-tested, considering factors such as income, assets, and residential status.
Challenges in healthcare delivery
Several challenges contribute to the current state of chronic pain for seniors in Australia. Despite the government’s efforts, there are always challenges that could be better addressed to ensure seniors receive adequate care for chronic pain conditions. There can be limited availability of specialists for some, long waiting times for consultations, and geographical disparities which can make it more difficult for seniors to access healthcare facilities.
Additionally, affordability will always remain a concern, as some seniors struggle to afford the out-of-pocket expenses associated with typical chronic pain treatments, even with the NDIS or Aged Care on their side. Addressing these challenges is necessary to improve the overall healthcare delivery for seniors with chronic pain in Australia.
How Easy Exercising can help manage chronic pain for seniors in Australia (Aged Care + NDIS participants included)
If you’re a senior, you must have heard of all the incredible benefits of exercise for your overall health. Regular exercise is a vital component of maintaining a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle, as it enhances physical strength, improves mobility, and promotes overall well-being. But even more, it is one of the best-known prescriptions for chronic pain.
Yet, you might be put off from exercising due to fears of worsening your chronic pain, lack of confidence in your ability to exercise, or even fear of judgement or embarrassment from regular gyms. This is why you need gentle, stress-free exercises that do not cause over-exertion to your body and then, an environment where you’ll feel welcome.
Through our power-assisted machines at Easy Exercising, you can regain the strength and mobility of your youth through well-supervised, gentle, stress-free exercises that do not stress your body out. Our machines do the exercises for you while you have a friendly chat with other seniors you’ll meet at our facility who have similar problems to you.
We have built a loving family of seniors who are all kicking chronic pain in the shins, including Aged Care residents and NDIS participants. Take Michael who is an NDIS participant, for instance, he has been coming to Easy Exercising to improve his health. He says:
“My name’s Michael. I’m a member of the NDIS and I come here for rehabilitation. I find it very beneficial and I recommend it to anybody else that has a … disability. It’s the most relaxing exercising that you can do and it really helps you. I know that for a fact.”
Even Sheralynn echoes Michael’s words. She says:
“Love the atmosphere and the exercising. Most enjoyable and suitable for older people.”
Come and check us out at any of our locations in Brisbane and get a FREE trial to see if you’ll love our machines and the close-knit community we foster.