In collaboration with Grey Power and Age Concern Waitaki, the Safer Waitaki Coalition designed, distributed, and collected survey responses from residents aged over 65 living in the Waitaki District.
The aim of the survey was to learn more about the barriers, needs, and circumstances of elderly people living in our community. A total of 476 survey responses were collected over a period of one month.
Key issues that resurfaced repeatedly were the lack of public transport within Oamaru and also to Dunedin, waiting lists and travel for appointments with health specialists, and financial difficulties to meet every day needs.
Helen Algar, Waitaki District Council Community Safety and Development Facilitator & Safer Waitaki Coordinator said, “The most commonly identified barriers or difficulties for transport were the lack of public transport within Oamaru, the expense of taxis, and transport to Dunedin for appointments.”
Most survey participants (91.9%) reported having enough social contact through friends, family, church or clubs. On average, seniors were active members in 2.5 groups, clubs or organisations. However there was a desire for a buddy system or caring caller service to reduce isolation. The most commonly used public facilities were the library and public gardens.
When asked about different aspects of personal safety, survey participants generally felt safe in public places and at home by themselves at night, but fewer felt safe walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark or using the internet for online transactions.
When asked to rate their quality of life as a whole, where 0 is completely dissatisfied and 10 is completely satisfied, the average score reported was 8, indicating relatively high satisfaction. When asked specifically about their health, the majority (76.5%) reported their health as good, very good, or excellent, while 18.4% said their state of health was fair and 4.1% poor.
More than half of respondents (54.8%) had to top up their superannuation with other sources of income in order to cover living costs. Over a third of respondents reported putting up with feeling cold a little or a lot to keep costs down. Two-thirds of respondents reported never postponing or putting off visits to the doctor to keep costs down.
“We would like to thank our partner organisations and all who participated in the survey. The outcomes of this survey provide baseline data which gives us a picture of what it is like to live in the Waitaki District as a person aged 65 and over. This information will be shared with member organisations within the Safer Waitaki Network, including the Waitaki District Council and will contribute to future planning.”