In research undertaken, charity AGE UK focusses on the key aspects of vulnerability in later life.
Their position is that even if we disregard the role of chance and accident, there is still a wide variation in the extent to which we may become vulnerable. This includes the age at which the process can start.
From their perspective, it depends on many factors, including:
- The attitudes held by the individual and by society in general.
- An individual’s contact with family, whanau and friends.
- The range and availability of support from others.
- The financial resources of the individual.
- The suitability of the home and environment.
- The extent of neighbourhood and local deprivation.
- The individual’s education and working history.
- The health behaviour of the individual over the life-course.
They make suggestions on how to help build resilience in later life:
- Adopt a holistic view of all kinds of vulnerability in later life as the focus, rather than concentrating on parts of the problem, or parts of the body. For example change thinking onto: some parts may not be functioning as well as I’d like, but in general most parts are working ok for some enjoyable things to happen.
- Search out the actual proven evidence about what is realistic, then utilise health and social services to identify problems earlier. That can enable you to access the available services as early as possible to prevent unnecessary deterioration.
- Work with others to make / lobby for places frequently used to be age-friendly environments (e.g. safe street footpaths, good lighting in trip hazard areas, kneeling buses to make it easier to get on and off, etc).
- Access available home adaptations, aids and suitable housing options.
- Call out ageism among your family/friends/whanau, professionals and society in general (e.g. people frequently don’t think about the impact of words or ‘cutesy’ terms they use).
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Date Published: November 2022
To be reviewed: March 2025