Once again older people are presented with the challenge of a new enemy in the form of a virus against which we have little defense. Many of us are likely to leave this earth earlier than anticipated. Worse still, for those who have already transitioned to aged care facilities and other types of care, contacts with friends and relatives are being rationed. The restrictions being put in place are sensible and inevitable given our vulnerable situation but difficult to bear for those on the receiving end. Older people are being cut off from their families at a time when they need them most.

The situation is inevitable if we are to save as many as possible but can we give hope that those who survive will do so in better circumstances than we had before? I hope that when we are able to look back on pre-virus  days we will have vowed never to let it happen again.

The major problem seems to be that aged care is notorious as being a sector in which it is easy to make a fast buck, rather than an area in which better conditions can be provided for those either entering the last phase of their lives or even in the very last stage. In the financial world salaries and bonuses paid to directors and other senior positions are made public. This should also apply in the aged care sector so that those in it to make a quick fortune are exposed.

Other situations arise because of the bias against older people I have mentioned previously- senior staff tend not to consult the older people in their care or researchers consult older people in their society. For example how many aged care facilities provide breakfast at a specific time? Have the staff forgotten the luxury of a lie in at weekends? Older people who have toiled all their lives should have this luxury everyday. I heard of one retirement home where the residents asked the staff if they could have a buffet breakfast in which residents could eat when it suited them. The staff reluctantly agreed to give it a try. It was a huge success. Residents could eat when it suited them and the staff liked it because they didn’t have to have everyone showered and dressed by a specific time. An added bonus was that only one member of staff needed to be on duty in the dining room and all the rest could help the residents get showered. The only downside was a gentleman with Alzheimer’s who kept forgetting he had already had breakfast!

Let’s look forward to a better future for our older people once we come through this challenge.