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MARCH 2022

FROM THE (interim!) CEO

The way we look at the world around us can make all the difference to how we feel.

There is so much happening right now. As I write this, NSW and Queensland are weathering a deluge and record-breaking floods, Omicron still runs and runs, Ukraine is in the fight of its life - a fight to stay free and safe, and the aged care sector continues to feel the impact of stresses that put you and the vulnerable older people you care for at risk of despair and overwhelm.

How on earth can you refocus your lens on life to find the clarity and calm you need?

Last week, our Community of Practice workshop helped us do just that. Our session was entitled Filling the well: remembering how to care for yourself as you care for others. Spiritual care of self and others is what will see us through. It will give us the clear lens through which to see our world, knowing there will be brighter days.

That’s not to say we cannot also be in action! We can and we must.

THIS MONTH’S SPOTLIGHT

Introducing the Identity Project: Exploring Identity in Aged Care
Let us know if you want to be involved in the Identity Project

GUEST ARTICLE

What we still misunderstand about loneliness

By Barbara Barbosa Neves

Dr Neves is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Monash University

“Can we make it OK to talk about loneliness?” – Elsie asked me with a sad smile.

Elsie, in her late 80s and living in a care home in Victoria, participated in one of our studies on loneliness in later life.

I have been studying loneliness among older people living in aged care facilities and living alone in the community for a decade now. And despite the societal progress we have made in creating awareness about loneliness, there are still pervading misconceptions.

These misconceptions are dangerous. They contribute to further stigmatise those who experience prolonged loneliness. They blame the individual for an issue that is, by nature, social. They dismiss their lived experiences. And they neglect how serious loneliness can be.

Here are 5 misconceptions that we must address.

1. Loneliness is not that serious or negative

Our participants, older Australians (aged 65+) experiencing prolonged loneliness, tell us how “it’s the worst bloody thing in the world”; how they feel “dumped’, “forgotten”, “miserable”.

Loneliness is painful. It entails immense emotional suffering. However, some people think we are talking about solitude. Solitude is often a chosen circumstance and one that we associate with pleasant time for oneself. Yet, loneliness is not positive ‘me-time’ or ‘self-care’.

As recently noted by the World Health Organisation, loneliness is a serious but overlooked social determinant of health in later life.

Loneliness increases the risk of illnesses and diseases that require hospitalisation and long-term care, such as stroke, chronic pain, physical and cognitive decline. For example, it increases the risk of dementia by up to 40% for older people regardless of gender, race and ethnicity, education levels, and even genetic risks. Loneliness is not a mental health issue, but it can lead to depression, anxiety, and stress.

Read the full article here

Welcome to our new research consultant

WHAT OUR MEMBERS TELL US

“With the support of Meaningful Ageing Australia, there has been a greater sense of direction as to how to properly cater for residents’ spiritual needs as per national standards. This has led to greater staff confidence in their job
and a renewed sense of hope and purpose for residents.”

Is your organisation ready to become a member?

ABOUT US

Meaningful Ageing Australia is the national peak body for spiritual care and emotional wellbeing in the context of ageing.

Spirituality is about how we create meaning, hope, purpose and connection in our lives. It can be more than religion, but it certainly encompasses this expression of faith.

Meaning, hope, purpose, and connection are also at the heart of quality of life and quality of care for older people in residential and community aged care settings.

Meaningful Ageing Australia creates practical resources that support aged care organisations to build staff capability to integrate emotional support and spiritual care in their work. When staff are able to meet all the needs of the older people they care for, then organisations are better able to meet the expectations of community and the Aged Care Quality Standards.