Ageing with attitude and maturing in place

December 23rd, 2022Ageing with attitude and maturing in place

THEIR parents may have been okay with becoming senior citizens, but as they move beyond a certain age, today’s baby boomers and the first of Gen X behind them - not so much.

Words and Image: Eve Lamb

THEIR parents may have been okay with becoming senior citizens, but as they move beyond a certain age, today’s baby boomers and the first of Gen X behind them – not so much.
It’s an observation evidenced in the fact that the building that two years back used to house Clunes’ Senior Citizens is now HQ for Attitude: Ageing Well.
Attitude by name – as solidly stated on their wooden signage – and Attitude by nature. It’s clear there’s no shortage of the stuff going down here.
Attitude is “a grass roots model of ageing well in community”, explains a flier. It’s a home-grown model that sits under the Clunes Neighbourhood House umbrella, and is starting to grab attention from further afield.
As I pull up a seat inside Attitude HQ, I’m here to hear first-hand from the regulars whether they believe there’s a need for more retirement living options in Hepburn Shire. There is general agreement there is but it doesn’t take long to discover the Attitude focus is far more wide-ranging.
Gareth Sharp, a retired engineer who used to project manage for government, and Lois Nichols, a former city-based magazine sales professional, are quick to point out that social connectivity underscores much of what Attitude is all about.
“We run along the same lines as the Mens’ Shed movement,” Lois says.
Those who get along are invited to introduce any particular interest area and then oversee it becoming part of the program. Since Attitude started in November 2020 it’s conducted more than 600 activities involving more than 2500 participants.
Regular free film nights, weekly pétanque sessions, bi-weekly boot camp, easy indoor exercise class, ukulele, philosophy, art, and outdoors walking are all just a bit of what’s on their seasonally renewed program – as are social outings.
“When you look at the population of Clunes there are so many people who are retirees or wanting to retire here, but we’re very inclusive and we welcome anyone coming along including those who would not previously have been considered senior citizens. It (adequate retirement living) will be an issue. There will be people from our baby boomer cohort with health issues.”
Access to transport, particularly for those who may not have a licence or a private vehicle is also an issue that comes up. Ready access to a community bus would help Attitude run its ongoing outings to locations that include wineries. Funding is also needed to enable programs to be subsidised.
The issue of ensuring provisions are in place to age well surrounded by friends is a perennial one, and it’s quite a pressing one for Hepburn Shire, the director of Belle Property Regional Victoria, Will Walton, observes.
Being in real estate gives Will a unique vantage point from which to regard the wider issue. “I think the council needs to take a proactive approach to planning for growth that includes attracting operators of retirement villages,” he says.
“We’re one of the older local government areas in Victoria as far as population goes and hopefully both the state and local governments will look at options to enable people to stay in their community and remain connected.
“In the Daylesford area there’s a big problem, absolutely. The two issues are the availability of land to house an independent retirement village. The problem we have here is the land is very expensive.”
The other problem that Will mentions is the dearth of smaller private accommodation options – units and the like, built to house just one or two people and enable older locals to downsize yet remain happily living in their own community.
The lack of independent retirement living opportunities only entrenches the shortage of rental accommodation for younger, larger households with older singles or couples forced to remain in abodes that have become too big for them to maintain, Will says. “I think it’s a problem the entire width of the shire.”
“But I also think that independent living retirement options that come with all the bells and whistles, like cinemas and indoor pools, usually have a minimum requirement of 50 units – so I’m not sure if the smaller towns could sustain that.”
Hepburn Shire Mayor Cr Brian Hood also rates the availability of retirement living options for the Hepburn Shire as an issue demanding attention.
“My immediate reaction is that it does need attention. We do have an ageing population. We know that the median age for people living in Hepburn is 52 and that’s older than the state average, and it’s a significant proportion of our community.
“And we’re painfully aware that housing availability is a general issue for our community including appropriate housing for older residents.”
Cr Hood was among those who, a few months ago, attended the launch in Creswick of Hepburn Shire’s No Barrier Positive Ageing Strategy 2022-30.
He says provision of housing to meet the specific needs of more mature locals into the future is one of the main focus areas prioritised within that strategy. Others include transport, health and social connectivity and participation.

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