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84 and living without fear

15th January 2020

Home Care client, Sandra Haynes, shares her experience of managing her own home and independence at 84 years of age.

Months after her husband passed away at age 87, Sandra Haynes encountered significant health issues that shook her confidence and threatened her way of life.

“My eyesight had been deteriorating for many years, but it wasn’t until I lost Barry to the stroke that I realised how fragile I was.”

Sandra was admitted to a hospital for ten days and was recommended to go into respite at an aged care facility to help oversee her full recovery. “I’ve been independent my whole life, so the thought of going into respite was scary, even if I was assured it would only going to be temporary."

“It’s very frightening when you get older. You are afraid that you'll have to give up your home. You’re afraid you’ll have to give up your life as you knew it.”

Arriving to Australia in 1975

Sandra gives the strong impression that she’s not one to give up easily. Coming to Australia as in immigrant in 1975, she built a strong performance career and overcame many setbacks.

“I left home at 17 to be on stage with just four pounds in my pocket. I was never a top singer but I brought a lot of joy to my audience which made me incredibly happy.” With two children, Sandra and her late husband, moved to Sydney Australia, and she soon picked up a career promoting records for ABBA and began to produce local theatre.

“We built an incredibly lucky life in Australia and it’s been testing to see that be at risk after Barry passed away.”

Accessing appropriate support

Sandra applied for a Home Care Package with the Commonwealth Government and with the help of Benetas’ Home Care team she gained access to a range of services to live actively in the community.

“The team went all out. They installed emergency assistance buttons, air-conditioning, meals on wheels, cleaning and gardening. They also provided transport support and financial assistance for things like my grief counselling.”

“So much changes when your husband passes away. You’re on one income but you still have a house to maintain. You still have to call out the plumber. And you still have rates to meet.”

“People my age can be so resistant to accessing the support they need. They think it’s the end of their life as they know – that’s the big fear. Those under 60 don’t want to associate with being old. And the others don’t want to feel like a charity case.”

If it means keeping your home? Go for it!

“I’ve been an independent woman all my life. I get to keep volunteering with Home Care support and have many friends who I can still visit and can lend my support to. I couldn’t do all those things if I didn’t access to these services."

Bereaving a partner is challenging at all ages. But having to then face the health challenges of ageing adds further challenges in preserving independence.

“I’ve lost my right hand. I’ve lost my mate. I have a lot of friends, but I am still lonely for Barry."

“Knowing that there’s someone at the end of the line who knows me and is able to provide support when I need it, makes all the difference to feeling strong in yourself and feeling supported when you might not otherwise.”

Find out more on Benetas' Home Care Services and how our Home Care teams can help you.


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