There are more people aged over 100 years of age in Australia than ever before.
And there’s growing evidence that continuing to live at home can help people become more resilient as they age.
A study by the Royal District Nursing Service Institute found that as a group, centenarians need less home care than seniors who are approaching their 100th birthdays. The study found that once seniors reached 100 years of age, they required fewer home visits than those who have not yet reached that magnificent milestone.
Elsewhere, a Georgian Centenary Study by the University of Georgia found that how we feel about ourselves and our ability to adapt to an accumulation of challenging life experiences may be as, or more important than, health factors.
The majority of past research on the oldest of the old has focused on health factors, but these Georgian University researchers found that centenarians’ feelings about their own health, well-being and support systems, rather than measures such as blood pressure and blood sugar, are stronger predictors of survival.
Also that personality determines how well centenarians react to life stress and change, and therefore whether they were as happy in their old age as they were when young. Healthy 100-year-olds had personalities described as open and conscientious. Neurotic personalities tended to be less healthy, the study found.
An individual confronted with a stressful situation can either find a quick emotional solution or ruminate on the problem, explains the study. One is very destructive in terms of general well-being and the other is very adaptive.
In a landmark 50-year study investigating the link between lifestyle and life span, researchers in University of Gothenburg, Sweden discovered an intriguing similarity in those who lived beyond 100.
Just 10 of the original 855 strong cohort survived until their hundredth birthday.
But nine of them were still living at home!
All of them were clinically healthy, satisfied with their circumstances and pleased to be living where they were.
CCNB is a aged care service that has supported thousands of seniors live independently. We currently have 147 customers aged over 90 and seven aged over 100, all of whom are continuing to live in their own home.
We make it possible for an older person to live out their precious days where they are most comfortable – for most, that is their own home.
It can’t be denied that good genetics, good diet and healthy lifestyle are important to living to a ripe old age. But life experience and ability to live independently in your home also appear to play a significant role.
Centenarians today were teenagers in the Great Depression. They were middle-aged during the ’60s. They seem to have a way of coping with stress, an attitude to life that’s maybe a bit more positive.
If anyone embodied that spirit, it was longtime CCNB customer, Rosa Salas.
Rosa was a 103 year old Northern Beaches resident who lived in her home with her daughter and son-in-law until late last year. Rosa was originally from Peru and widowed before she was 40. She brought up her four children and her adopted daughter alone.
Rosa’s daughter reached out to CCNB to help support her mother, as Rosa was determined to continue living at home despite her declining health. Rosa was experiencing vision impairment, hearing impairment, reduced mobility, a heart condition and a history of small strokes.
CCNB managed Rosa’s Home Care Package, which included personal care twice daily on weekdays, once daily on weekends, fortnightly domestic assistance and in-home podiatry. This support provided huge relief for the family, enabling them to support Rosa’s wishes to live out her final days at home.
In September 2016, Rosa passed away peacefully at home, with the loving support of her family as she had so hoped for.
According to the Grattan Institute, surveys consistently show that between 60 and 70 per cent of Australians would prefer to die at home. Hospitals and nursing homes are their least preferred places to die. Yet over the past 100 years home deaths have declined and hospital and residential care deaths have increased.
Today only about 14 per cent of people die at home. Fifty-four per cent die in hospitals and 32 per cent in residential care.
These statistics strengthen CCNB’s mission. For more than 23 years we have coordinated services to enable people to live independently in their own home and community. We continue to provide impartial advice, information, guidance and referral to people steering through Australia’s complex health, disability and aged care systems. We’re on a mission to help people facing health and ageing challenges get the most out of life, and continue living in their own home if that is what they wish.