I have just come back from a conference on the coast on aged care and feel so refreshed. I hadn’t realised until I got home just how bogged down I had been in everyday life.

I deliberately chose a motel to stay in which was in walking distance of both the conference venue and the shops, yet was on the riverfront. I was able to park my car and walk everywhere. When I went out it meant a walk along the side of the river with quite a lot of bird life and little pedestrian or car traffic. I could even see the river when I sat outside my unit. Peace. Watching the tidal flow was also a reminder of the bigger world we are part of.

Most of the other conference participants were people involved in the ‘hands on’ care of older people. These professionals are the salt of the earth. If we had more people of their calibre what a better place the world would be. This was in the week in which the lists of the richest women were published. I am always reminded that these people don’t actually make money themselves – they just acquire the money, already in circulation, from other people. What a huge contrast between the two groups. What a different world it would be if those involved in the care of older people had a bigger say in the way the world is run.

There are so many different aspects to the type of care older people need, including the importance of dental care. If people don’t have access to this and their teeth decay, then they have problems eating, and the type of foods they are able to eat. This often makes a balanced diet difficult to achieve. For people in residential care, arrangements usually have to be made not only to get an appointment with a dentist, made more difficult if they can’t afford private care, but also the transport required to take them there. There was one story of an elderly person not being able to identify her own dentures from the 3 sets in front of her. When teeth are not properly looked after it makes it more difficult for nurses caring for them.

Added to the problems associated with dental health are other areas of concern such as incontinence which I am told affects 1 in 3 older people. This figure makes it even more important that information about pelvic floor exercises, and the importance of them, be more widely known.

I am sure that as we age we don’t want to think of these issues and the fact that they may apply to us, not just other older people, regardless of who we are. We just have to be thankful that there are wonderful people who will look after us when we need it.