Archives for posts with tag: aged care facilities

I find it distressing that this very natural event, which is inevitable and happens to all of us, is now being covered in controversy. The days when we could regard it as something that happened without fuss and with only minimal pain, if any, is becoming such a complicated situation.

The problem seems to be that with the huge increase in medical knowledge our doctors, or at least some of them, think that they are obliged to keep us alive at all costs. This is particularly brought home to us in the book ‘Dying for a Chat’, in which the author herself (Dr Ranjana Srivastava) was part of the medical team which tried everything to keep an elderly lady alive, without consulting her or explaining what they were doing. It seems that later the doctor realised how inappropriate this was in the circumstances. How much simpler it would have been, and more comfortable it would have been for the patient, if she had been involved in what the medicos were doing, and asked whether she wanted it or not.

It is disturbing to see the figures on how many people say that they would prefer to die at home compared with the number of those who end up being allowed to do this. Our death should be something under our control if we are aware of what is happening.

I was reminded of this the other day when I heard of a lady in a care home who was diagnosed as being near death and the nurses were told to get her to hospital. The matron protested pointing out that the lady would be more comfortable where she was, in familiar surroundings and with people she knew. This is what actually happened, with the family able to stay with her in her room and with access to the kitchen for themselves so that they could prioritise caring for their loved one. This seems such a simple situation, and best practise for the dying person and her family, who were later to say how much they appreciated being involved in optimum care like this.

This calm and peaceful scene is challenged by authority which is obliged to investigate any non-hospital death and the nursing home undergoes scrutiny, and a possible threat to its license. Isn’t it time common sense and humanity stepped in and returned death to a serene process, assisted if necessary by any necessary medication to ease any pain?

Modern medicine and regulation should be there to promote well being, particularly at this crucial stage of our lives. Maybe those who make the regulations could intelligently ask themselves what they would want at this time and enable others to have the same experience. Modern medicine and regulation shouldn’t be replacing humanitarian knowledge. We all want to be able to control our lives. We should also be allowed to control our death.

Sometimes I despair of this happening, particularly in developing countries where many of them are still a long way from achieving equality for women even. How can any country think it can lift itself out of poverty if it ignores the qualities and talents of half of its population? The same of course applies to a country’s attitude to its older people. Any country which talks about an ageing population ‘problem’ is missing out on the talents and abilities of its older cohort. One day we will talk about our ageing population ‘bonus’ and we will be well on the way to a much more prosperous country, and a more prosperous world.

In the midst of this gloom occasionally a beam of light appears. This happened to me recently. In one of the nearby country towns an aged care provider had the brilliant idea of having a ‘Grey in May’ celebration of ageing. The idea seems to be to not only include the residents of its own already quite large complex (it has facilities for independent living, nursing care and intensive care) but also the rest of the town. The month long festival includes a village walk, a community BBQ, an Art Show, a morning tea for its large number of volunteer helpers and a luncheon for the whole town. Wow! May there be many more organisations involved in aged care who take a similar positive approach. We hear a lot about older people having problems as they get older, particularly physical problems as our bodies deteriorate, but how much easier they become if we live in an environment as positive as this, where older people are celebrated. Well done to Mark Sewell and his staff at Warrigal.

I have received this link to their website I wonder how many people watching it are aware that these are aged residents in an aged care facility? This is such an enlightened approach to aged care and I would like to think is a light leading the way forward for other aged care providers. Believing in older people and believing that we have a lot to offer shouldn’t be such a huge step, particularly with such a wonderful example to follow. Next year the International Federation of Ageing is focussing on Age Friendly Cities at its international conference in Brisbane, Australia. I always have problems with this concept as I think they should be friendly to all age groups, many of which have similar needs. The month long celebration of ageing discussed above certainly creates a more age friendly environment and I hope helps all the older people in this town to walk with their heads held high long after May is over. If the older people are happier then the rest of the town will be and will benefit from it.

There is hope ahead