Congrats on 100th big birthday
IS THE Queen's hand getting tired? She has so many more centenarians to congratulate these days - with nine at Umina's Peninsula Village alone.
There are estimated to be 4500 centenarians living in Australia, with our life expectancy among the world's best and a "healthy life expectancy" of 73 - about 10 years above global averages.
The latest member of Peninsula Village's 100 Club is Edna Taylor, who celebrated her birthday on October 20.
"I've had such a wonderful life and can't believe I made it to 100," Edna said.
Her recipe for a good life is working hard and "don't worry about things".
She joins fellow village centenarians Beatrice Abrahams (102), Norma Petersen (101), Frances Dawson (101), George Jackson, Dorothy Callister, Gordon Briggs, Joy Lewis and Phyliss Hill (all 100).
Executive care manager Melinda Dempsey has been working in residential aged care for more than 20 years and acknowledged that even 10 years ago it was quite rare to have one or two centenarians in care.
"Back then we really kept them in cotton wool - they were very frail, their mobility was quite poor, some were bed-bound, often their hearing was gone and they weren't able to communicate at all well," she said.
Today, thankfully, it was quite a different story and Melinda said "quality of life has just increased and increased".
The 100 Club members are spread across Peninsula Village's three residential aged care levels, from low to high care (requiring help in daily living) and the ageing-in-place residence (including dementia specific and palliative care).
"I am amazed by this group, at their level of mobility and cognition - they are so active and it's really lovely to see that people are living longer but also living better," Melinda said.
She believes there are a number of reasons for that, including improved general medical and specialist care but also people keeping themselves more active and therefore healthier and more mobile.
Even the age at which people entered care, she said, had increased dramatically, from 65-plus in the past to 84-plus, with better health and supports allowing people to stay in their own homes longer.
She said the 100 Club members were all active in community and/or sports, kept their minds engaged and advocated "everything in moderation", as well as enjoying the company of family and friends.
At the not-for-profit Peninsula Village, she said, there was also a focus on what was meaningful to each resident, ensuring every individual had purpose, rather than just providing general group activities to keep people "busy".
"It's really based on the person having control of their own life and listening to what each person wants and needs," she said.
Peninsula Village chief executive Shane Neaves added that maintaining an environment of inclusion, independence and support was crucial to longevity in full-time care.
Often, Melinda said, it was simple things that made the difference between someone being happy or unhappy, such as one resident who wanted to run his own barbecue with mates.
"Having the autonomy to do that has changed his whole experience and perspective on aged care," she said.
And while none of the centenarians were currently in the village's independent living apartments, she said there was a 97-year-old still in that section, so it could happen yet.
Meanwhile, the 100 Club members celebrated their record-breaking number with morning tea, a drumming circle and "a good chat about life and what had got them here".
"I think it's a really good news story for aged care, particularly in the current environment, and it shows that it's definitely not all bad news out there as some sections of the media portray," Melinda said.