- Tasmania has the country’s oldest and fastest ageing population, and for the state’s estimated 22,000 gays and lesbians the prospect of aged care has an added layer of concern.
- In the new year, a team from the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre will launch a study into the lives of Australians with dementia who live alone.
- Commercial solariums will be banned from December 31 in South Australia, Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 15th December 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News
Tasmania has the country’s oldest and fastest ageing population, and for the state’s estimated 22,000 gays and lesbians the prospect of aged care has an added layer of concern.
It has been 20 years since homosexuality was decriminalised in Tasmania and many older lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) people are still wary of lingering prejudice as they consider their aged care options.
A new training program aims to ensure they feel as safe, comfortable and respected in aged care as their straight housemates.
Ros Albiston and Linda Jomartz love the northern Tasmanian town of Deloraine where they have lived for the past six years.
Ms Jomartz said they expected to see out their lives there.
But they were forced to rethink their plans when Ms Albiston was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Like many other same-sex couples, Ms Albiston said they had grave concerns about moving into a nursing home, like being respected as a couple.
“I know that even for heterosexual couples even things like privacy are not necessarily automatically respected but that’s even harder for a same-sex couple.” she said.
Ms Jomartz said it was important that they were allowed to make decisions for each other.
Ms Albiston said many older people in the LGBTI community feared how they would be treated and perceived in aged care.
A federally funded program being rolled out in aged care facilities is raising awareness of the needs of clients or family.
Glenview aged care services chief executive Lucy O’Flaherty said the training helped staff be mindful, aware, and responsive to all clients.
Ms O’Flaherty said conversations with other residents are also important.
“Demographics are changing and we have far more people from an LGBTI community …I had a conversation with some residents only a few days ago, and I thought there might have been some concern, whereas the response I got was ‘everybody’s got a right to care, regardless’.
“All the residents we have spoken to have been really open, welcoming and really quite excited to get new residents that have differences.”
Some facilities like Glenview have put all staff through the program, and it is hoped every aged care service in Tasmania will have completed the training within the next 18 months.
An estimated 65,000 Australians are living alone with dementia and researchers are keen to know more about their lives.
In the new year, a team from the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre will launch a study into the lives of Australians with dementia who live alone.
Of the 225,000 Australians estimated to be living in the community with dementia, not in an aged care facility, about a third live by themselves.
With that number increasing, Alzheimer’s Australia has identified the area as its top research priority.
Lead researcher Dr Jennifer Fletcher said the study wanted to establish how people at home with the condition were faring.
She said one of the biggest problems was locating the study’s subjects, as dementia sufferers were sometimes too afraid to answer the door and the phone.
She said researchers would focus their efforts on several suburbs in south-east Sydney.
Commercial solariums will be banned from December 31 in South Australia, Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.
A ban is unnecessary in the Northern Territory because there are no sunbed operators.
Western Australia and Tasmania are yet to enforce proposed bans.
According to the Cancer Council, 43 Australians die each year from skin cancer associated with solarium use.
Cancer Council Australia’s public health committee chairman Craig Sinclair said health groups were counting down the days to the ban.
The movement for change began with the compelling and tragic story of a young Melbourne woman Clare Oliver, who campaigned in her final stages of melanoma to ban solariums.
Ms Oliver was a regular tanner who died three weeks after her 26th birthday.
Even as the sun goes down on the controversial industry, there are still remaining solarium operators trying to capitalise on their final weeks in business.
Cheap sales are being advertised on tanning bed time.
Hundreds of businesses in Victoria and New South Wales have taken up the government buyback scheme, disposing of the appliances in exchange for up to $2,000.
Melbourne beauty salon owner Amie Mita said she had been preparing her business for the change for months.
She plans to have a scrap metal company collect the machines in the new year.
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