OPINION: Older people make huge contribution to NZ society

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JO LUXTON, LABOUR LIST MP FOR RANGITATA

October 1 marked a very special day, the International Day of Older Persons.

A time to recognise the importance of older people in our society, and the valuable contribution that they make every day, it is a chance for everyone to celebrate the amazing older people in our lives and to say thank you.

Throughout South Canterbury, and all over New Zealand, there are many older people doing incredible things. Like the 2018 New Zealander of the Year, Kristine Bartlett, who changed the lives of thousands of New Zealand women and lower-paid workers by successfully securing equal pay legislation for caregivers in the aged-care sector.

And Dr Bill Glass, “godfather” of occupational health, whose 60 years’ of experience and work has resulted in better healthcare for countless workers, the 2019 Senior New Zealander of the Year.

Older people make a hugely positive contribution to our economy. In the future we will need to increasingly rely on that contribution if New Zealand is to grow.

Recent statistics show us that more than one fifth of our local population is over 65. Currently there are around 725,000 people aged over 65 nationally. By 2028 there will be 1million people, nearly a quarter of the population.

Our ageing population is one of our greatest achievements. A growing number of older people are healthier, more educated, more skilled and are living longer. These are all things to celebrate. They are also things to be mindful of as we make decisions for our local aged population. Timaru has the opportunity to really take the lead and ensure that aged care issues are at the forefront of decisions made by the council, SCDHB and of course, the Government.

In order to keep our people healthier, and care for them better when they are unwell, we need a modern, efficient health system.

Budget 2019 made significant investments in fixing up more of our ailing hospitals, and empowering our DHBs to deliver more affordable healthcare in our communities, with better health outcomes for all.

We are also committed to better cancer care. We all deserve world-class support from prevention and early diagnosis to treatment and palliative care.

That’s why we recently announced the Cancer Action Plan – so everyone battling cancer in New Zealand can get the best possible care, no matter where they live.

It shouldn’t matter if you live in Timaru, Auckland or Invercargill; we all deserve the absolute best care in order to give us the best chance of survival.

Seniors are not immune to suffering from mental health issues. We all know someone with a mental health story, and our record $1.9billion investment will have big benefits for seniors.

As I’ve said before, I believe that all societies should be measured by the way in which we look after the interests of our youngest and oldest citizens. This Government is truly committed to doing just that.