Donít leave it too late Ė get your parentsí stories written now!

Have you noticed that after Covid restrictions eased, people were talking more? Nightclubs, cafes and restaurants were suddenly full, people were meeting to walk their dogs, cricket teams were back up and running – or should that be batting and bowling? The simple answer is that people were feeling lonely during the lockdown, and the value of someone to sit and chat with is now seen as a priority. In other words, people want company.

If you found lockdown restrictions trying, think of what it was like for people in our retirement homes and aged care facilities. The usual community programs folded, they were not allowed visitors or to visit others and all the staff were hidden behind facemasks and other protective head gear, ensuring that all face-to-face communication was as little intimate as it was possible to be.

Because of minimal physical contact, no one was sitting down with our elderly loved ones to have a cuppa and listen to them. Zoom, Facetime and other internet channels don’t quite make the grade compared to having another human being with warmth and understanding being in the same room as you. As well as listening to what elderly loved ones have to say, facial cues and body language show that we are valuing their company and engender a feeling in them that they did achieve something, that their life was worthwhile and that they will leave behind a treasured legacy.

Around the time the coronavirus lockdown ended in Melbourne, the Royal Commission into Aged Care released its findings. In its Final Report summary, it states:

‘Australians are living longer than ever before. It is projected that the number of Australians aged 85 years and over will increase from 515,700 in 2018–19 (2.0% of the Australian population) to more than 1.5 million by 2058 (3.7% of the population). With advanced age comes greater frailty … As the population of older people increases, more people are expected to have memory and mobility disorders.’

By the time our parents are needing to move into aged care facilities, it’s often too late to sit down and listen to their stories. They will probably be suffering the onset of dementia, when memories are become fractured and communication dwindles.

The 2020 coronavirus crisis and the Royal Commission into Aged Care has demonstrated more than ever the importance, even urgency, of recording our elderly loved ones’ stories – now.

Coronavirus has not gone away, it will return and there will be more lockdowns. Will you allow your elderly ones to leave a legacy or become a statistic? Meet with them now, ask them about their lives and write it down, or employ a life story professional to do this for you.

Don’t leave it too late – get your parents’ stories written now!

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