I wonder if any country in the world has a civil service sufficiently intelligent to realise how cost saving such a department would be? The trouble is we associate old age with death and there is a tendency just to leave us to it without realising that in fact there are now many years before this event actually happens and meanwhile the situation is costing countries with ageing populations many millions of dollars. The result is that older people either accidentally stumble across how to age healthily or suffer unnecessarily from a variety of aches and pains, and often worse problems, all of which costs money in various ways.
I had an untreated shoulder injury as a child which is becoming more of a problem as I get older. My doctor suggested I see a physiotherapist. I must admit it took me two attempts before I found one I thought would be able to help. He was so successful with my shoulder I asked if anything could be done about my arthritic knees. My doctor had only said that I should restrict my daily intake of pain killers and at an Arthritis Association meeting we were merely told there was no magic bullet. Basically we had to put up with it.
The physiotherapist has given me some exercises which I know won’t cure me of my arthritis but if they ease it and, equally importantly, slow down its progress then to me this is a huge step forward.
Knee and hip operations are very frequent among older people, and are very expensive and even if we only delay them this must be a plus. I am assuming our knowledge of these procedures is progressing as each year passes. Not only are they very expensive but they are often not very successful. Two of my friends have had 3 hip replacements on the same knee and still use walking sticks.
If we did have a Department of Healthy Ageing not only would it investigate preventative measures, such as those physiotherapists offer, but also publicise them so that all older people could have access to this information. In recent years the government has found the money to advertise the value of regular walking but it could go so much further than that as this is only a small part of the picture. I would like to see so much more published about keeping well specifically for people over the age of 65. I envisage professionally produced books with plenty of diagrams and photographs, and videos to which we could have easy access. Preferably they would be made with older people involved, both as assistants and advisers. Equipment can be based on everyday items around the home such as bench tops and brooms to assist with balance for example. Steps are everywhere and can be useful. Weights aren’t expensive if we are taught how to use them. Cans of beans can be good substitutes!
All it needs is an intelligent public servant with enough access to power to change the world of ageing and therefore the country’s finances.