Thinking about retirement in your senior years can be confronting. This is especially so when thinking of suddenly moving your whole life into aged care. Worse, the options of a facility versus Home Care add to the confusion. This is made worse if you’ve lived independently all of your life.
It is a well-studied fact that one of the top concerns of ageing Australians is loss of independence. With that comes a perceived lack of control over what you can or can’t do. Naturally, many of us take for granted the right to eat what we like, or cook and clean for ourselves. However, this can all be taken away from you once you move into a residential home.
What’s even more concerning is that new statistics show that malnutrition is said to affect half of all aged care residents in Australia. Some facilities have even been accused of cutting back on food costs to increase profits.
New data released from Bond University shows spending on fresh food in residential homes has fallen. They cite an almost a 5 percent drop per person over a 12- month period. This works out to an average spend of only $6.08 per resident per day.
Leaving a retirement village
It was a hard pill to swallow for eighty-fiver-year old, Dimosthenis Papantoniou. He left his retirement village just twenty-two days after settling in. Worse, he sadly had to leave his wife behind. That’s because she was too ill to leave. However, Dimosthenis says he just had to go home. Plus, a big concern of his was the poor quality and variety of food that was being served.
Dimosthenis now enjoys gardening and socialising with friends and family
Migrating from Greece many years ago, Dimosthenis likes to keep his culture alive. For example, he enjoys a small cup of Greek coffee every morning. His daughter, Michelle explains her dad hates being told what he can and can’t eat. She says, “where it’s sad is the language barrier. I think they’re kind of limited in what they can do. Basically, Dad didn’t like being in a facility because they didn’t want him to do anything,’’.
Since coming back from the home, Dimosthenis now enjoys gardening and socialising with friends and family. Nextt Case Manager, Elizabeth Kitchin, says she’s never come across a person in her profession so determined to live independently. “He’s been a very strong man coming home after having been in a nursing facility. Plus, choosing to stay at his own home, it’s very admirable. That’s why I’m doing what I can to help him stay at home comfortably”.
What are the alternatives?
Nextt pride themselves on providing speciality in-home aged care for seniors. Commonly just called “Home Care”, this way seniors can stay at home comfortably. basically, they live life as normal, longer. In most case, they only enter an aged care facility if they need full-time medical care. Dimosthenis is much happier now that he can sit in his garden and enjoy the sunshine. In fact, he doesn’t fret about the little things. In short, keeping a sense of independence has been crucial to his general health.
social isolation and loneliness are known to be health risks for the elderly
Aged care co-ordinator Melinda Hampshire says socialising is essential to the general well-being of seniors. “We are well aware that social isolation is one of the most debilitating conditions the elderly can experience. In fact, it is well written that loneliness plays a considerable role in the rapid decline in health. That’s when compared with someone who has family and regular visitors at home.” Mrs Hampshire said.
Mrs Hampshire says social isolation and loneliness are known to be health risks for the elderly. In fact, studies focusing on the relationship between social isolation and mortality have shown that having supportive social relationships was indeed related to a decreased mortality risk. “Our older communities are trying to show they are still independent. Of course, at times they’re reluctant to accept help in the first place. That’s because they don’t want to be a burden to anyone.’’ Ms Hampshire said.
Loneliness a big problem
The National Ageing Research Institute has found 40 percent of aged care residents do not receive a single visitor throughout the year. “Visit them, take time to spend with them, not just doing things for them. For example, share your Christmas day or share your meal.” Ms Hampshire said.
As the aged community grows rapidly, with their growth comes a new approach to ageing. Maybe it’s time for leaving behind the stigma? Surely, we should be working hard to keep our loved ones at home whenever possible?