A guide to preventative self-advocacy

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Knowing where to go for help in a crisis is essential, but managing a crisis can begin far before it even becomes one.

We’re talking about ‘preventative self-advocacy’.

What does it mean?

Preventative self-advocacy involves identifying potential challenges that may impede our well-being as we age and taking steps to address them before they escalate into crises. This may involve recognising health-related issues, accommodation concerns, and management of financial assets early on so you can make informed decisions and adjustments to your lifestyle to ensure a smoother journey ahead.

It’s a concept all about being proactive rather than reactive and a powerful tool empowering older people to safeguard their rights, and maintain their autonomy, dignity, and quality of life.

Older woman sits at a table reading a book titled 'Legal Will'

Let’s explore practical ways to take preventative actions.

Choosing a guardian

Selecting a trusted guardian is a critical decision we should make long before it becomes necessary. This decision ensures your wishes regarding medical care, financial matters, and overall well-being are upheld even if you’re unable to voice them personally. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly, as you want to choose someone who has your best interests at heart but will also know when to step back so you can make your own choices.

Home modifications

Proactively making home modifications to accommodate changing mobility and accessibility needs can vastly improve your quality of life. Ramps, handrails, wider doorways, and other changes can help prevent accidents and may allow you to live independently at home for longer.

Tip from our Advocate Taryn: “People of all ages should consider modifying their homes so they can stay in them for as long as possible. One example is removing the shower hob – the raised barrier at the base of the shower – in the bathroom. The risk of stepping over the hob may just be the difference between going home after a hospital stay or having to go to transitional care or a residential aged care facility.”

Create a safe, waterwise garden

Planning ahead for a waterwise garden not only benefits the environment but also makes outdoor spaces more manageable. A well-designed garden with easy-to-maintain features can provide exercise, relaxation and a sense of accomplishment without excessive physical strain. Always prioritise safety and mitigate the risk of tripping hazards like overgrown tree roots or dislodged bricks on paths.

Considering pets

For many older adults, pets are cherished companions. It’s important to consider the potential challenges associated with accommodation, as many rentals or aged care facilities have restrictions on pet ownership. Planning ahead by researching pet-friendly housing options or facilities can help ensure you stay together. Also bear in mind the ongoing responsibilities of pet ownership and make arrangement for their care in advance to ensure both your own and your furry friend’s well-being.

An older man in an orange sweater holds a small white dog in his arms

Strengthening support networks

Building a strong support network of friends, family, and community resources can be immensely beneficial. These networks offer emotional support and assistance during times of need and an invaluable sense of belonging. One way to make new connections is finding a community group or activity that interests you – try using Act Belong Commit’s activity finder.

Engaging relevant bodies early

Begin the MyAgedCare process early and connect with advocates and legal professionals in advance. Seeking support on proactive actions will empower you to address issues before they escalate and know where to turn if your rights are violated. Accessing support through MyAged Care can be a lengthy process, so getting ahead of any crises by being in the system will accelerate any changes you may need for your care.

Improving digital skills

In today’s digital age, enhancing digital literacy is vital. It will enable you to access information, stay connected with others and engage with services and support. Many local libraries and community resource centres offer sessions or drop-in times to help you with technology – find your nearest one here – or you can learn digital skills via the government’s Be Connected online platform.

Two older woman in a park smile and laugh looking down at a phone with orange cover

At the heart of it, preventative self-advocacy is a proactive stance that empowers older people to shape their own future. By identifying potential challenges, making necessary arrangements and building a strong support network, we can take charge of our rights and embrace our golden years with confidence.

If you have any questions or concerns about how you can start practicing preventative self-advocacy, or would like support with your aged care rights, please call our friendly advocates on 1800 655 566.


Water Corporation | Waterwise tips – https://www.watercorporation.com.au/Waterwise

Act Belong Commit | Activity finder – https://www.actbelongcommit.org.au/activity-finder/

MyAgedCare – https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/

Senior City | Where to find computer classes for seniors in Perth and online – https://seniorocity.com.au/computer-classes-for-seniors/

Be Connected | Free online courses for seniors – https://beconnected.esafety.gov.au/

Older Persons Advocacy Network – https://opan.org.au/

Council on the Ageing WA – https://cota.org.au/