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The path to a nursing home is not inevitable

Australians are staying healthier for longer and life expectancy is increasing but seniors and their families are often fearful of what lies ahead.

The path to a nursing home is not inevitable

Australians are staying healthier for longer and life expectancy is increasing but seniors and their families are often fearful of what lies ahead.

Sadly, the evidence arising from the Federal Government’s royal commission into the nursing home industry has done nothing to alleviate those fears.

Of course there are many Australian nursing homes offering good quality care but it is the lack of choice, independence and dignity that seniors fear most. They want privacy and autonomy.

At Aura Holdings we acknowledge this and are providing new and better models. We believe that accommodation designed for seniors, in an engaged community of like-minded people with care and support providers on hand, will allow our residents to maintain their precious independence in their own apartment. With this support they may never need to set foot in a nursing home!

We are providing vertical living options for retirees and downsizers in a social community where residents are only a lift ride away from the support and facilities they desire.

Aura director Tim Russell says a nursing home need not be inevitable but suggests seniors start thinking about the lifestyle they desire as they age and to put measures in place sooner rather than later.

“My advice to people planning the next phase of their lives is don’t sit around hoping someone will take care of you,’’ Tim says. “Make a conscious decision to do all you can now to avoid a nursing home and have a plan. The sooner you get your plan into action the more likely you are to achieve your goals for living a happy and independent life.

“Don’t wait for an unexpected illness or an event that requires an urgent change in circumstances when aged care becomes the only option. Often if you leave it too late, decisions get made for you.’’

Terry, 81, is a proud and rare “survivor’’ of a nursing home. Terry had downsized to a retirement community after her husband’s death, then became a care facility resident but “escaped’’ back to her retirement village.

Terry, Kingsford Terrace Corinda resident

“I can’t recommend nursing home living to anyone. I’ve told my family there’s no way I’ll be going back to a nursing home,’’ she declares.

“I am the only person I know who has gone into one of those places and not come out in a plastic bag!

“I’m lucky I was in a position to make my own decisions.’’

After an accident Terry spent seven unhappy months living in care amongst residents with dementia. “They treated everyone the same, even if you didn’t have dementia,’’ she says.

“I had no one to talk to and spent a lot of time alone in my room. I also had people wandering into my room. More than once I had strange men standing beside my bed at night. Often it would take 45 minutes for my call to be answered.’’

Now she is back in Aura’s Kingsford Terrace retirement community at Corinda in a one-bedroom apartment and is thrilled her quality of life and independence have returned. “I am amongst friends and have the support I need with a visiting care service I’ve known for 13 years that also cared for my husband.

“I have a motorised wheelchair I use to get around. Life’s busy. I like to have things to do. I have backup if things go wrong. I’m leading my own life and have quality of life. I hope to stay here until I die.’’

Tim Russell says Aura’s apartments are designed so residents can maintain their vitality and independence with all the chores taken care of and support services available if needed.

“This could be a service provider coming in to cook a few meals, clean or nursing care after surgery. Even our residents with mild dementia can stay in their own apartment with the level of support they need,’’ he says.

“It’s also a real comfort for the adult children who are stressing about the future of Mum and Dad to know there are alternatives to nursing homes available.

“Often there is no need for residents to move again as support can be delivered to them as their care needs increase.’’

The high-quality independent, supportive living provided in an Aura retirement community promotes a strong network of nourishing social contacts and planned activities.

Isolation can be debilitating – older people who feel lonely and disconnected from family and community have higher rates of depression and cognitive decline. The company of only the TV is no alternative for human companionship. The support and social interaction of likeminded people has immeasurable benefits.

Aura’s innovative buildings constructed for seniors feature large windows and sunny areas to provide happy spaces and create a connected community that looks out for one another.

A major mistake many seniors make is to remain in the family home too long, dealing with all the stress of maintenance and living in a property not designed for ageing with stairs and slip risks. It’s essential to actively avoid a fall. A broke hip only hastens the road to a nursing home.

If the time comes for more support to live independently in your apartment, Aura Holdings has partnered with in-home support provider, Five Good Friends. Depending on personal needs, Five Good Friends can provide services from domestic chores such as cleaning and shopping to nursing care, overnight stays even palliative care.

Five Good Friends was inspired by the research into centenarians around the world who tend to have something in common – a circle of at least five good friends who are thought to be the key factor contributing to their longevity.

CEO and co-founder of Five Good Friends, Simon Lockyer, says clients who have firm plans in place for their ageing manage to stay independent longer. Government subsidies can be provided for in-home care with the Federal Government recognising it is more cost-effective to keep people living independently rather than in aged care homes.

With technology, innovative building design and high-quality retirement living with community facilities more Australians can look forward to ageing just as they desire with independence, dignity and choice. The power of choice is liberating for older Australians anticipating their later years.

To find out more about Aura Holdings’ villages go to auraholdings.com.au and for information about Five Good Friends go to fivegoodfriends.com.au

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