Two ladies relaxing

Independent Advocacy and Older People:

Independent advocacy is a way to help you to make your voice stronger and to have as much control as possible over your own life. Advocacy Workers do not make decisions on your behalf and they will not put words in your mouth. Independent Advocacy will help you get the information you need to make good choices, and give you the help you need to express yourself clearly.

It can be a frustrating and confusing process to get the help and support you need as you get older. Many people do not really understand who to turn to for help, what they are entitled to, or how to go about getting it. Independent Advocacy can help older people to find the information they need, explore the options available to them, and to support them to get the services and support they need to live an active and independent life.

Older People:

In 1875, the ‘Friendly Societies Act’ defined old age as “…any age after 50”. By todays standards that figure seems ridiculous, but it does raise a valid point: how do we define ‘Older People’?

In general, the term is applied to people who have retired from work or are of retirement age. For some purposes, such as benefits and pension credits, age or date of birth are strict criteria: the later your date of birth, the later you will qualify for pensions and pension credits. For other purposes, like medical treatment or care provision, your age is not as important as your physical and mental health, the amount of work or exercise you do, and the lifestyle you lead.

Scotland’s population as a whole is getting older. People are living longer, they are having fewer children later in life, and as a result the proportion of older people in the population is increasing. This graph represents a projection of the Scottish population by age range over the next 25 years:

Population

Scottish Population Projection by Age Range, 2010 – 2035 (source: Scottish Government)

This presents a significant challenge for the future: as you can see from the graph, there will be a larger number of retired people in the 60+ age range, and a smaller number of people in the 16 – 60 age range who are working and paying taxes. This means that the way we currently care for older people needs to change, as the current methods will become unsustainable in the near future. Something needs to change.

The Scottish Government has introduced a policy called Reshaping Care for Older People, which changes the emphasis from the current situation of caring for people once they need help, to a preventative and anticipatory approach which aims to keep people living independently in their own homes for as long as possible, adding healthy years to their lives.

With this change of policy direction in mind, it is now even more important that older people get immediate access to the care and support they need to maintain their health and independence.

Other Support for Older People:

There is a vast range of support available for older people, from social groups and leisure activities through to services like home care, personal alarms and meals on wheels. This list is by no means comprehensive, but if you are looking for anything you cannot see listed here you can call OPAL on 0141 438 2347. OPAL is a dedicated telephone helpline for all adults in East Dunbartonshire, and it has a huge range of local knowledge and a network of contacts in the area, many of whuch are particularly applicable to older people..

East Dunbartonshire Council provides a wide range of statutory services for older people. The Scottish Government guarantees free personal-and nursing care for people over the age of 65 who are assessed as requiring it, and this service is usually provided in the first instance by EDC Home Care. Anyone over the age of 65 who is struglling with their own personal care (washing, dressing, toileting, preparing food) can ask for an assessment for Personal Care.

There are also more comprehensive care measures for people with greater care needs. In order to access these services, you would normally complete a Single Shared Assessment or Community Care Assessment, which asks a wide variety of questions about your life and your circumstances. Whilst some people may find this an intrusive process, particularly the financial aspects, it is a very valuable process to you because it opens up the possibilities to getting all sorts of services and support to improve the quality of your life. You can contact the Adult Intake Team on 0141 355 2200.

Carers Link is a local organisation which supports carers. If you provide regular care for someone who requires support to carry out everyday tasks, then you are a carer and could qualify for extra help and support for yourself. You can contact Carers Link on 0800 975 2131.

Age Scotland provide a wide range of factsheets and information in both electronic and paper formats, as well as a quarterly magazine called Advantage. Age Scotland has its own helpline on 0845 125 9732.

There are two seniors forums in the East Dunbartonshire area: the Bishopbriggs and District Seniors forum (contact Mr. Semple on 0141 762 0260), which meets on the first Monday of the month at 1:15pm at the Auchinairn Community and Education Centre; and the Kirkintilloch and District Seniors Forum (contact Mr. Brickley on 0141 775 0588), which meets on the last Thursday of the month at 10:30am in the Park Centre in Kirkintilloch.

The University of the Third Age (U3A) has a thriving group running at Lenzie Golf Club, and another group growing steadily in Bearsden and Milngavie. The University of the Third Age is a national organisation, with over 800 local groups and more than a quarter of a million members. Despite the name, the U3A is not just about academic learning – it also offers leisure and social groups which are tailored to the older person. To find out about meeting times, and courses or activities that are available, contact Gillian on 0141 775 1071 for the Lenzie group, and call 07592 501 648 and leave a message for the Bearsden and Milngavie group.