Even with 2020 vision who would have predicted how this year would turn out!
Across Australia the pandemic has impacted so many people. 2020 has been a lonely and isolated year for many older people with limits on social gathering and community activities suspended.
Our family is celebrating Mum's 93rd birthday this weekend, with 11 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren it will be a fun noisy affair. Gatherings like these will never be taken for granted again!
Mum moved into a retirement village 2 years ago after my Dad passed away. She settled well into her new home and, with the encouragement of kind neighbours, she has enjoyed many social events at the village. Mum has felt safe and secure living independently in her new home, also supported by at home aged care services.
However, life changed with the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions in March. Village activities were suspended and social interactions were limited to chatting with neighbours from across the street. We decided to suspend Mum's home care services, with me and my sister covering Mum’s day to day needs. Learning to use computers and smart phones had passed Mum by and our attempts to set up video calls resulted in many funny moments and lots of frustration.
Although safe in her home, with limited social interaction, Mum’s general well being started to decline. Thankfully Western Australia’s COVID-19 higher level restrictions were for a short period of time and we all felt very grateful to be living in WA.
Gradually Mum’s life returned to normal. Neighbours popping in, family visits, craft mornings, social events and aged care resuming. Mum is feeling the best she has for a long time. She is looking forward to all the Christmas festivities and was thrilled to celebrate her 93rd birthday with the family.
2020 has reinforced for me the impact of social engagement on health and well being, and the importance of addressing the increased isolation and loneliness of older people in our communities.
As we head towards Christmas, remember, often all many people would want for Christmas would be a “cup of tea and a chat”. Merry Christmas everyone!
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