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    Ita fighting for older Australians

    We need a new way of thinking about older Australians, Ita says.

    Posters of MDFA campaign featuring Ita Buttrose

    Macular Degeneration Awareness Week 26 May – 1 June 2013

    Older Australians have the powerful voice of Ita Buttrose, Australian of the Year 2013 and Patron of the Macular Disease Foundation Australia, fighting for their interests this Macular Degeneration Awareness Week.

    Ita Buttrose said, “The day I was honoured with Australian of the Year I made a public commitment to raise awareness of issues relating to older Australians, including macular degeneration.

    “We need a new way of thinking about older people and how we care for them. During Macular Degeneration Awareness Week, I want the health of older Australians to be a priority for both the community and government.

    “It’s a two-way street. Older Australians need to take care of their health and not take it for granted and the government needs to look after this important group and treat them with the dignity they deserve,” said Ms Buttrose.

    Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in Australia primarily affecting older Australians and causing over 50 per cent of blindness and severe vision loss.

    “Many older people would be surprised to know the importance of their diet and lifestyle in reducing the risk and progression of the disease including eating an eye-friendly diet and leading a healthy lifestyle,” Ms Buttrose said.

    “I want to encourage older Australians to make eyes their health priority.

    “At the same time the government needs to give equitable support to Australians over 65 years who have vision impairment from macular degeneration,” Ms Buttrose said.

    Macular Disease Foundation Australia CEO, Julie Heraghty said, “If you acquire a disability, such as legal blindness from macular degeneration after the age of 65 years, you are presently excluded from the support of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). You will access and co-pay for services through the aged care sector, which is not designed to cater for relevant services such as low vision aids.”

    Ita Buttrose said, “It is just unacceptable for any government to discriminate about the care a person receives because of their age. On one side of 65 a person is eligible for care under the NDIS and receives life-time funded support; on the other side of 65 a person becomes the responsibility of the aged care sector with very limited support. It is confusing and worrying to older people to experience this kind of discrimination. Older Australians living with a disability, such as vision loss from macular degeneration, deserve better.”

    Posted: 27 May 2013

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