Turning that ‘magical age’…65 or over

  • News
  • 05/06/2018
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Close up image of Dick Weinman

This is an interesting insight from Dick Weinman from Oregon, USA, who shares his journey about moving into an ALF (Assisted Living Facility) which we call ‘a nursing home’.

Some comments from Maree Ireland:

I found this video both interesting and confronting.

It started me thinking about how in the last 10 to 12 years I have seen my parents and other relatives go through the ‘ageing maze’.  I don’t think ‘getting old’ and its possible consequences is something people really prepare for.  It is something that ‘just happens’ to you and we muddle along and try to cope with it.

My mum and dad were relatively well until they reached their mid-80s. My mum then became gravely ill with cancer for 3 years and my dad became physically incapable of looking after himself. As a family, we were mostly concerned about getting mum the appropriate treatment and getting dad into appropriate accommodation where his needs could be met. My family didn’t stop and think about the effect this was having on them. I could see that this affected their independence, autonomy, self-respect and just being able to do what they wanted to do.

As a person with a disability I had some insight into this and could empathise with them.  However, when I visited mum in hospital and dad in his nursing home, I could see how some staff treated people with a lack of respect and individuality.     

This is why it is important that support workers try to treat people as people first, within the confines of rules and regulations. I understand facilities and staff have a routine and procedures to follow, but it would be great if management of these facilities could remember they are treating or caring for people first, regardless of their age or wellbeing.

So there is a need for current staff, support workers and students in Ageing Support to realise that sometimes they need to go beyond practices and procedures and professional boundaries and show some compassion towards residents in such facilities.

Workers and students need to realise that elderly people generally do not choose to take up residency in a nursing home. Generally, the decision is made because a person’s life situation or health has deteriorated, and there is pressure from family to find a place where their loved one can be cared for. Often when an elderly person enters such a facility it is a big change in their lives. They probably feel a loss of control and choice in their lives. Workers should be aware of this and show a little understanding and compassion.

Australia is slowly starting to enable elderly people to remain in their own homes for as long as they want to. They should have the right to live their lives the way they want.

Click here to see a new take on this issue happening in America.