I Never Want to Go Into An Old Folks’ Home!

How often have you heard the elderly say this?  On their own and frequently feeling down in spirits, they can barely manage to look after themselves properly from day to day, let alone clean and maintain their home. Then, what would they do in an emergency?  Despite the pleadings of family, they won’t budge. For them, it is a step into the unknown, a loss of independence, and just too difficult to contemplate. Later perhaps!

I had the opportunity several years ago, to inspect with my son several properties on the market in Port Melbourne. One we looked at in a good location (Dank Street) was a deceased estate. It was derelict beyond belief. Most of the floor boards which remained were rotting and unsafe to walk on. It was damp and it stunk. There was no functional kitchen and just a dunny down the back. Much of the fence was falling down, the walls were crumbling and the garden a wilderness,

I imagined the owner still alive, struggling to survive without assistance in filthy and unsafe premises year after year. It was the home he/she knew and loved, and it doubtless held precious memories. Was it his/her choice to continue to live there in squalor? Did he/she not know the monetary value of the house? It sold for over A$900,000! Enough to enjoy real comfort!

The decision to move from one’s own home into a retirement village can be a painful one. But the longer it is left, the harder it becomes. It was a choice my wife and I made a year ago, in our late seventies. Despite all the effort that was involved, it was one we have not regretted, and we have the assurance of knowing that we have the support and continuing care we need as we get older.

I recently came across an article which I think aptly puts the case for the elderly to seriously consider the advantages to them of moving into a retirement complex. I do not know who wrote it, or where it was printed, to attribute credit. Evidently it was printed in a Senior Living Community Newsletter in the United States.

How often  strong and vigorous men, active and gracious women, enter retirement years and use this excuse to postpone the very decision that could liberate them and increase their enjoyment of life.

They’re not ready yet:

  • To live in an attractive and comfortable home without the effort of maintaining it.
  • To be able to forget about mowing the lawns and other tedious household chores.
  • To enjoy the companionship of others with similar desires and expectations.
  • To eliminate worry concerning health, security and transportation.

They’re not ready, in short, to simplify their lives. They wait for some sign, some failing, to justify or even compel a move from the home that’s too big, or chores and possessions which require a great deal of attention.

Sometimes they wait too long.

Sometimes they find they have wasted what could have been some of their better years. Moving to a comprehensive retirement community shouldn’t mean retiring from life, but simplifying life to enjoy new interests and activities, or the old ones there wasn’t enough time for. One doesn’t step into old age by moving to a retirement community, but it opens a new door to an active, dignified and interesting life.

What does a Retirement Village have to offer?

Independence, security, a sense of community, friendships, a place to be private.

 A gift of time to use constructively, and personalized service when needed.

Think about it. What is best for you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our Nurse

Who is it that comes at dead of night

In dark blue gown, and apron white

And gently asks, are you alright?

Our Nurse

 

Who is it then, with noiseless tread

Goes softly round from bed to bed,

And shakes your pillow, lifts your head,

Our Nurse

 

Who is it keeps to morning light

a lovely faithful watch all night,

Yet calls us with a smile so bright.

Our Nurse.

 

Who when the dim night hours are done

And the days busy work begun

Is as active then, as anyone.

Our Nurse.

 

Whoever patient, thoughtful and kind

Will no unpleasant duty mind

In whom a friend we always find.

Our Nurse.

 

Who when the day begins to wane

Cheers us with her bright smile again,

And robs the night of half its pain.

Our Nurse.

 

This poem was written in the 1950’s by a grateful patient.

 

 

The Liz Jackson Tragedy

Australia’s highest honour for Journalism is the Walkley Award. In nearly two decades of investigative journalism for ABC’s Four Corners, talented barrister turned journalist Liz Jackson won it five times.

But her last and greatest story is her own, making public her fight against Parkinson’s disease, panic attacks and depression. Fittingly, it was presented as the final episode of Four Corners for 2016. She deserves our praise and gratitude for allowing the camera to film her at her lowest. It was painful to watch, and no doubt confronting for her and her filmmaker husband Martin Butler to record.

Her story brought to my mind that of Canadian-American actor Michael J Fox, winner of several Emmy, Golden Globe, and other Awards. Whereas Liz Jackson was 64 when her conditions were diagnosed in 2014, Michael Fox was still only 29 when diagnosed in 1991 with this career ending condition.  For 7 years he tried to conceal his problem by taking large doses of dopamine. But the relief was temporary, necessitating larger doses, and eventually he developed all too obvious, uncontrollable involuntary movements, a side effect of the prolonged use of dopamine (tardative dyskinesia).

Because harrowing stories such as these may engender a defeatist attitude, and depression, I venture to add a few comments for the benefit of the newly diagnosed. My qualifications for doing so are based on my medical background, and experience of being diagnosed with PD (Parkinson’s disease) in 2002.

Tremors occur in many conditions other than Parkinson’s disease with varying prognoses. A collective term for them all is Movement Disorders. Paradoxically not all patients may have tremor, but the main features are tremor, muscle rigidity, and slow movement (bradykinesia).

Symptoms which have troubled me include fragmentation of sleep, disturbance of balance, and restless legs. A symptom I am most grateful not to have, is loss of the ability to smile. I have become clumsy, and cannot perform the fine finger activities I once could. I find it difficult or impossible to keep food on my fork, or a glass steady without spilling it. Writing, even signing my name, is irritatingly slow, and shaky. But I can still type, despite frequent miss-hits and double or triple taps, and have become a rather prolific blogger (read by few).

Precise diagnosis can be difficult. In my case, because I have little muscular rigidity and my symptoms have been remarkably stable over the years, my diagnosis was re-appraised to Essential Tremor, a familial and more benign condition.

Not all movement disorders respond to medication (as Liz Jackson discovered). Because of the potential for side-effects, the aim should perhaps be to use it sparingly for relief. Cure is not a realistic objective.

The point I would like to emphasize to all suffers from movement disorders is to focus on what still works, and to keep as physically and mentally active as one possibly can. Hand movements may be unsteady, but limb movements are usually assured. I like exercise and aerobic balance classes; I garden and walk the dog. Many Parkinson sufferers find bicycling to be therapeutic. I took up playing croquet soon after being diagnosed, for the skills of steadiness and accuracy it promotes, whilst demanding concentration and planning. Indoor bowls is my latest recreation.

Three quotes I like from Michael Fox:

Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.
 
I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.
 
My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.

 

Pop-Star sells up

Reverse Home Loans for Seniors, to stay in their own home

We will undoubtedly hear more of a financial strategy that has been given prominence in recent years, and was in the news again this week. It enables pensioners to borrow against their home, and is known as a reverse mortgage. Most seniors are still wary of putting their home in jeopardy, despite financial institutions packaging them to avoid risk to clients’ ownership.

Their wariness is justified. Saving to own a home is a financially sound strategy because inflation works in the owners’ favour, gains are not subject to capital gains tax, it is not included in the asset test for the pension, and the value of the asset compounds each year. Furthermore there is an immediate and continuing benefit in not having to pay rent whereas money in  superannuation is locked away until retirement age, soon to be 70 years of age. Superannuation benefits are also eroded by inflation, and are greatly reduced in market collapses such as occurred in the 2008 global financial crisis.

Pros and cons of reverse mortgages

Borrowing against home equity, when unable to afford to pay off the debt, soon  sacrifices these benefits, as the debt compounds. Some retirees do not necessarily mind. They are happy to continue to spend what they have while they can, seeing no point in leaving an inheritance for their children. They reckon they have paid their taxes, and the state should look after them when their money is gone.

The state has a divided interest. On one hand they wish to cut the sky-rocketing cost of care as the population ages, with fewer workers to support the elderly.  They believe users should pay even if it means tapping into the money tied up in their home. On the other hand the cheapest option for aged care is to reduce accommodation costs by keeping them at home for as long as possible with the support of community services.

The Australian dream of home ownership is still strong, but it is becoming more unrealistic as prices climb. Many elderly Australians, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, have benefitted financially from windfall gains in the value of their homes in recent years making them asset rich but income poor. Reverse mortgages, sensibly structured to avoid forced selling, may be a solution for them, allowing them to pay their rates and continue to live at home.

It is not just the cost of remaining in the family home for the elderly that is limiting. There is the problem of health and physical vigour. Some frail pensioners live in squalor unnecessarily when if they sold their home they would have more than enough to live in comfortable retirement quarters with support when needed.

Pop-Star puts the family home on the market.

Pop-Star and Mrs Pop-Star, both not far off 80, have been mulling over these questions for some time, and a few months ago decided to shift into a retirement village after finding a unit that suited their needs.

Australian retirees have many quality options. Most conform to a high standard, resembling tourist resorts, with recreational and entertaining facilities. The social advantages of communal living, and the safety of a gated compound are other benefits. It is also appealing to know that maintenance will be attended to even when away.

It is helpful if there is a nursing home nearby so that it is easier to visit a partner who has to be admitted. Most facilities provide community care in one’s own unit when required, but this is not always adequate for example should one have a stroke. The village Pop-Star has selected also has a dementia unit.

Points worth considering when making decisions about one’s future. 

Keep your family informed. They may be affected, and could be most helpful.

Many elderly are negative and are adamant they will not move.  They should think of the many positive considerations.

Some units may be too expensive with operators setting prices above what may be realised from selling the family home. Cheaper options could be available.

It is important to read the fine print in contracts, and it may be worth the fee to have a solicitor scan and interpret the documents before signing.

Moving into a retirement village invariably impacts upon one’s financial status. Centrelink will need to be informed, and they can help with financial advice if needed.

 

Best wishes to all retirees in their enjoyment of life be it in their own home, or in a retirement village.

 

Everybody Loves Croquet

Bough of a giant English Elm tree frames the equipment shed and shelter of the Mount Barker croquet club.

Bough of a giant English Elm tree frames the equipment shed and shelter of the Mount Barker croquet club.

Croquet is one of the oldest most traditional games in the world. But did you know that it is also one of the most social games in the world? A century ago, it was a highly social and fashionable pastime and was one of only a handful of games enjoyed by both men and women together. It was not uncommon for male players to deliberately hit their female opponent’s ball off into the bushes where time spent searching for it was an opportunity for some flirting. (Does your club need more bushes?)

Today croquet is enjoying a resurgence in popularity because of its social aspect and its flexibility as a tactical game that challenges the mind yet is not as physically demanding as some other sports. There are a variety of types of croquet to try that can take as little as 40 minutes (golf croquet) or some hours for the more traditional game of association croquet, where it has been compared to snooker on grass.

In South Australia there are 38 croquet clubs with a membership of over 1000 active players who, as well as enjoying the social aspect of the sport, may compete in local, state, national and even international championships. Australia is the largest croquet playing nation in the world with over 8000 players.

Croquet is one of those games that many people haven’t tried, so are drawn to it out of curiosity. They soon discover how enjoyable it is and how it accommodates men and women equally, and can be as competitive or as social as they like.

Members at clubs enjoy passing on their knowledge with budding new players young and old and welcome any interested member of the community to come and try croquet at their club.

Younger players are being drawn to the game by Croquet SA initiatives such as the new Hammer Time program, where the experienced members take great delight in helping them play. This interaction between generations in the community really brings people together and is a fabulous example of the State Government’s strategy for an all age friendly community.

Clubs work hard to present their facility as an inviting and modern venue where the whole community can enjoy croquet. Clubs are often located in lovely ambient surroundings, when coupled with the lush croquet lawns are a delight for anyone to enjoy. Hyde Park club, located in the Unley Council area is one such club. In an effort to make their facilities more attractive for their members and guests they recently purchased some new chairs – chairs that were safer and more comfortable that the 40+ year old ones they replaced. The Club is very appreciative of the Grants for Seniors funding it received for the chairs through Office for the Ageing.

So, step up to croquet, click here for more information or phone 8271 6586 to find your nearest club.

http://www.weekendplus.sa.gov.au/?iid=119812&crd=0&searchKey=Croquet#folio=3

This is an article is from the magazine “The Weekend Plus”, a South Australian Government Publication devoted to South Australian Seniors. It is well worth a read, even if you are not from South Australia. I trust they will not object to my reproducing it in this blog.

The early days of croquet in South Australia.

Fellow Retiree and friend, Pharmacist Ralph Worthington and his wife Jill introduced me soon after I retired to the mysteries of croquet. Skilled player Aileen Mehaffey became my coach and Mentor at the strong Norwood Croquet Club on Portrush Road in Adelaide. At 65 I was never going to excel at the sport, but I enjoyed it and the social contacts. It kept me active, both physically and mentally, demanding constant focus on strategy and its execution.

After moving to a retirement home in the Adelaide Hills satellite township of Mount Barker, I transferred my membership to the local club.

This post is the result of a desire to learn of the beginnings of the croquet game in South Australia. I am indebted to the Croquet SA website for the following historical information.

South Australia was settled 28 December 1836 when 176 free settlers including Captain John Hindmarsh subsequently the First Governor of the new colony arrived on board the HMS Buffalo at Glenelg.

They and subsequent settlers brought with them aspects of the genteel English lifestyle they had enjoyed in their homeland.  Not surprisingly croquet was a past-time they soon introduced to the new settlements, the earliest being in the Barossa Valley in 1867.

 http://www.croquetsa.com.au/?page_id=62

History

CROQUET IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA 1867 — 2013

Croquet was brought to our state with the early English gentry. They wanted to keep their lifestyle and interests as they had in England.

Many of these people were able to build substantial homes in the Fitzroy, St. Peters, Medindie and Walkerville areas, just north of the Adelaide. A lot of these homes had their own courts, so the game was a social event.

Some of the larger families moved and bought pastoral leases in the fertile Angaston and Kapunda areas. Crops, wine and mining was very profitable.

The earliest photos we have are of a group of players in a paddock on a hill at Angaston on New Year’s Day 1867, photo below.

Recent research has revealed that it was Angaston, not Kapunda that had the first club in S.A. Croquet has been recorded as being played in the town as early as 1850.

Angaston club was officially formed in early 1867 and was played at various venues until land for a Sports Park was given to the town by Mr. George Fife Angus, whom the area was named after. This was in late 1867. The club membership was by ballot. The club celebrated its Centenary in 1967 and due the drop in membership closed in 1970 after 103 years.

Kapunda was the second club formed in 1868. Photo below of Kapunda club members.

This was closely followed by The North Adelaide Club. Membership list of this club were the who’s who of society at that time. Other than a list of the founding members and rules there is no more information of this club and it is said that when the president returned to England that the club folded after one year.

1890 saw two courts set up behind the main grandstand at the Adelaide Oval. This is where the games between clubs were played and plans were made to form our Association. These courts were used up to late 1925.

Mr T.N. Stephens was the instigator in the formation of the South Australian Croquet Association in 1917. He approached the City of Adelaide Council and obtained a part lease of Park 17 in the South Park lands edging onto Hutt Rd. South Terrace Club had previously in 1911 been allotted their area on the East side of the park. This also was obtained by Mr. T.N.Stephens.

1926 saw the first four courts set up and also the club house which was named “CROQUET HOUSE”. The opening was held in July that year.

In 1926 there were 47 registered clubs and the number was still growing.

A newspaper cutting records that in 1934 there were 1,300 players, six of whom were men. These were the first men to join the Association.

Both women and men have excelled in the game over the years. The Association and Golf Croquet interstate competitions are held annually and are in South Australia every few years. South Australia has a team of men and women representing our state in both Association and Golf croquet every year. South Australian players have also represented Australia in overseas tournaments. The McRobertson Shield is one of those.

In April 2012 we were honoured to host The 13th World Croquet Federation Association Croquet World Championships in Adelaide, they were a great success, and many local and interstate players and members of the community came to watch the best players in action.

Our School and Disabled Programs are very rewarding and we try to have Primary School Championship Games each year. The secondary school also compete in their program for the Championship.

Deaf, sight impaired, and brain injury folk love to play Golf Croquet it is a real treat for them to be able to play.

Coaching and Refereeing personnel give regular sessions and also travel to the rural areas when requested. This is very important to keep up the standard of our game.Although our membership is not what it was in 1934 and a few clubs have closed we are still a very active Association. At present there are 1,071 members and 43 clubs. Below is a photo of our clubhouse on Hutt Road as it is now.

This is only a brief outline of the history and activities of our Association, but will give you a little idea of our Croquet Life here in South Australia.

Janet Eckert
Croquet Archivist