As we know, elders are central to our communities. They provide support, they teach and pass down knowledge, and they share their experiences. We can see their guidance in every day life. We follow them, we observe them, and we then teach our own families. It is said that it’s through our elders, that the spirit of aboriginal people is kept alive.
Many of our elders aged over 55 will have a long-term health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or respiratory disease of the lungs. And it’s pretty common that as an aboriginal Torres Straight Islander person ages, they will have some disability. If an elder has a health condition, there’s support available from their medical service to help them stay strong. The support might help them live longer as well.
The support that an elder will need depends on the situation. For example, if an elder has a heart disease, they might be treated with special medicines to help their blood flood to their heart. Even if an elder has a condition that can’t be cured, medical service can offer support and other treatments such as medicines to help relieve pain, or allied health services to support movement and provide home support.
Something else that a medical service can help with is the indigenous health check. Every aboriginal or Torres Straight Islander person at every age is entitled to a free health check every year. It’s good to get this check done, even if the elder feels fine. The check is designed to look for signs before there’s any illness. The aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander health check will take up to one hour, and during the check, a doctor will yarn to the elder and ask questions. These will help the doctor know if there’s anything in the elder’s life that might lead to an illness or injury
The doctor, and sometimes a team of different allied health professionals, might work with the elder and their family to keep them healthy. This will help an elder protect themselves and stay well as they age helping them live longer and stronger. It’s also important to help an elder visit their medical service as soon as they can if they have any worries about their health, even if it seems like something that’s small. There’s no shame in getting checked. It’s better to be safe and checked than leave it. They also might need help to get to the service, so think about ways your community can help with transport. By helping our elders receive good health care, we can help them live longer and stronger, so they can have more time to guide us into the future.