The Carer's Champion March Issue

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ISSUE 7 | MARCH 2022

The Carer's Champion Easing the Caring Journey for all!

In this issue: LIFESTYLE Experts sharing their wisdom to help you live your best life.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT Sharing about the products and services available to ease the caring journey.

FEATURE STORY Jean Kitson - We Need to Talk About Mum and Dad

WHY I DO WHAT I DO Talking with people across the aged care sector to find out why they do what they do.

1300 10 22 33

Tips, Traps, and Tricks for Carers!


MARCH 2022

The Carer's Champion

Editorial Contributions are welcome however authors must include their names and addresses. Full names may be published unless you request otherwise. Contributions should be sent as Word or PDF documents. Contributions may be edited in accordance with standard editorial practice. While due care is taken to ensure the accuracy of published material, The Carer's Champion accepts no responsibility for any information contained in contributions and specifically disclaims liability for contributors' claims or opinions. Readers are strongly advised to seek appropriate professional advice before acting on any medical, pharmaceutical, health related or financial information in this publication.

Advertising Advertisements are published in the form submitted by advertisers. The publisher does not check the veracity of claims made in advertisements and accepts no responsibility for their content.


Rita Merienne Aged Care with Ease


Aged Care with Ease

The Carer's Champion takes your privacy seriously and will not pass on your details to any third party without your approval.

0414 491 761


PO Box 3338 Asquith NSW 2077

We want to hear from you, your opinion matters. Emails can be sent to

If you haven't signed up yet -just scan here

The Carer's Champion was established in 2021 to shine a light on the challenges of family members caring for their aged loved ones. Rita Merienne is a CareAbout Contributor.


MARCH 2022

The Carer's Champion


Why I Do What I Do


This issue we have a chat with a couple of people who provide services in the aged care sector.


In the Spotlight


Lifestyle Articles on topics like health, fitness, stress, mindfulness, relationships, and more. Get the best out of your life with Lifestyle! .


Feature Story: Jean Kittson - We Need to Talk About Mum and

A look at what it is like for the amazing people working hard behind the aged care scene to provide products and services that will make caring easier for you and your loved ones.


Adaptive Clothing Guide Products to assist with mobility

Shining a light on products and services to make the caring journey easier and a little something that makes you smile.


A Day in the Life

Click here to sign up for the free webinar


The Directory A list of products and services mentioned in the magazine .

Thinking outside the box to find the right solution

In This Issue Feature Story We Need to Talk about Mum and Dad

Page 8

Why I Do What I Do Settling In - Rosewood Aged Care Home


The Fit Matters - Dr Gina Kingston


Cycling Without Age


Carer's Chitter-Chatter Page 7

Giveaway Page 14

A Day in the Life How That Empty Room Can Help You Care for Your Aged Loved One


What's the Difference and Does It Matter?


Enhancing the Interaction


In the Spotlight Mable


One Size Doesn't Fit All


Custom Phone Covers


LifeStyle Life Style by Dr Gina Kingston


Mindfully Me by Dee Brennan


Real World Real Health


Self Compassion with Alyson Williams


Affiliates Page 23 Adaptive Clothing Guide When we look good we feel good Page 50

Harmony in Words Book Review Page 65

World According to Rita Page 67 Carer's Circle Caring for Ageing Parents 4 | THE CARER'S CHAMPION au/

MARCH 2022

Editor's Note Welcome to the seventh issue of The Carer’s Champion. A space for you!

Photography by @traceymurrayphotography

This month we look at Adaptive Clothing and the different options available including footwear. Jean Kittson and I talk about her book "We Need to Talk about Mum and Dad" and her insights about caring for her parents. During NSW Seniors Week I will be hosting a free webinar - Taking the Confusion out of Finding the Right Care. In this issue, we chat with Wayne from Cycling Without Age - Gold Coast about taking our aged loved ones on Trishaw rides Pets have so many benefits for all of us, especially our aged loved ones. Ted from Joy for all shared how Pet Companions are the perfect solution.

We look at the difference between aged care homes and Retirement Villages with Kerrie O'Brien from North Shore Retirement and Aged Care Consultants. The Carer's Champion's vision is to provide carers with information about the products and services available to make the caring journey easier. I will always give you full disclosure about the affiliations and companies I am working with. I am excited to let you know that I am now a CareAbout Contributor. Our fabulous columnists help us to take a break and think about ourselves. We can't fill from an empty cup and we all need to include some time for ourselves. What are you doing for you today?

Dr Gina Kingston helps us to find the right fit

You matter to me!

for shoes and gives us some advice on how to


make sure our aged loved ones have the right fit.


Meet the Columnists Catie Chung

Deanne Brennan

Catie is a nurse case manager who has helps families deal with the crazy

Wellbeing and Mindfulness Coach, Mum, Runner and total Coffee snob. Her number

healthcare system

one priority in life is to take care of herself first.

Dr Gina Kingston Qualified Personal Stylist specialising in people with health issues. Gina’s mum had Multiple Systems Atrophy a Parkinson’s Plus disorder and Gina has scoliosis.

Yvonne Heitz Words in Harmony book review provided by Word Harmony Proofreading and Editing Enterprise. Providing support for carers since 2014 with Aged Care with Ease.

Upcoming Events

The next Issue of The Carers Champion will be available on 1 April Nutritious Meals April Issue

Alyson Williams Trained Transformational coach, Relationship coach, Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Coach, Extended DISC Behaviour Analysis practitioner and Hypnotherapist and Bling Angel

Rita Merienne Editor, author, podcaster and the main person behind The Carer's Champion. Here to support you on your caring

How to make sure your aged loved ones are eating right

journey. You Matter to Me!

Contact me now to find out how to advertise in The Carer's Champion



Carer's Chitter-Chatter! Photography by @traceymurrayphotography

Free Webinar

DCAF Connections

Hosted by The Carer’s Champion

To celebrate Seniors Week

Taking the Confusion out of

DCAF Connections is hosting

Finding the Right Care

their Social Cafe.

30 March from 2.00 to 3.30 pm March social café community Just sign up below and all the

morning to see who they are

details will be sent to you.

and what they do! Date: Thursday, 31 March

Speakers include:


The Room Xchange

Time: 10.00am to 12.00pm


(12.00pm to 1.30pm optional light lunch) Location: The Warrawee Club,

The first 50 people to register

1479 Pacific Highway,

will receive a hard copy of The

Warrawee, 2074

Carer’s Champion

Cost: Lunch cost to be advised

You are Enough

Try something new today

Bookings are essential. For Special handouts

catering purposes and to

And a few free giveaways too.

comply with current NSW COVID regulations.

Contact: Fiona Jenkins – 0402


837 877

Seniors Week It is Seniors Week in NSW from 29 March to 6 April 2022. Are you going to any events?


Celebrate the wins and learn from the challenges

We Need to Talk about Mum and Dad Love Is Not Enough! How many times have you made the wrong decision on your caring journey? How many times have you said “I wish I knew that before”? How many times have you asked for all the information about parenting your parents to be in the one place? “We need to talk about Mum and Dad” by Jean Kittson may just be the answer to all the questions about caring for your aged loved ones. I have long been a fan of Jean Kittson - I loved her various comedy shows and performances. She always brings a smile to my face with her matter-of-fact style of comedy. I was thrilled when I saw that she had written a book about parenting our ageing parents and even more thrilled when I was able to interview Jean for the Carer’s Champion. And I wasn’t disappointed with the book or the interview! Everything I had hoped it would be and more. Yes, dare I say it – I wish I had this book when I was caring for our father.

This book needs to be the reference guide for every person who has a parent that will need care and for everyone who will one day need care.

Ok - what I am trying to say is everyone would benefit from having this book available at the very beginning of a caring journey so you don’t go down the wrong rabbit hole and make decisions that won’t help anyone.


We Need to Talk about Mum and Dad I have spoken about this many times – when we have to make decisions during a crisis (your aged loved one having an accident, or needing urgent care) it is a very emotional time and we are often enveloped in a fog. Our decision-making capabilities are impaired. Emotions take over and we don’t always make the best decisions. Jean said to me was that the people she interviewed for the book were all very capable people however caring for their aged loved ones brought them to their knees. It is tough. There is no shame, no blame, no judgement just acknowledgement and understanding. It is easy to be overwhelmed when we don’t know where to turn to for help and that is exactly what Jean’s book is about. Jean looks at most aspects of “parenting our parents” and provides an easy to read practical guide to make the caring journey easier.

Covering everything from estate planning to managing grief, this insightful book takes you through many of the scenarios you will face parenting your parents. Informative with a touch of humour and filled with case studies so you can see you aren’t alone on the caring journey. I highly recommend this book to you and your siblings. With honesty and frankness that is extremely refreshing, Jean explained that she probably started being “concerned” for her parent's care far too early – when they were in their mid 70s, over 20 years ago. Which is a very long time to be on the caring journey. 75 was too young for her parents – they were very self-sufficient and didn’t need to be parented. Care can be seen as patronising. Talk to your aged loved ones and ask them what they want and what they need. Make sure you are all on the same page when it comes to finding the right care. No, we didn’t say it would be easy and there is a very fine line that can be easily crossed.


We Need to Talk about Mum and Dad I am reminded of my interview with Tim Ferguson from The Doug Anthony Allstars (January Issue), where he spoke about being treated with dignity and respect. During the 1990’s Jean and Tim often worked together on The Big Gig and other comedy programs. Jean shared that parenting her parents was an emotional journey and in the beginning, she had no idea of the right place to source information and get the help needed. It is the reason she wrote the book. Understanding the implications of the decisions made is very important. From retirement villages to aged care homes or staying in their own home with more support services and even the granny flat clause. There are options for care however those options can have financial implications for everyone. Speak to a professional and get the right information. But it is more than that, it is important for everyone to have an understanding of the implications of the decisions made. Helping your aged loved ones to make the right decisions is important. Taking the emotion out of the discussion may mean you need a third party to help out.


From removing obstacles for safety to financial advice and everything in between. Starting the conversation early doesn’t mean the care starts early. It’s about knowing what your aged loved ones want, what their financial situation is, what their medical conditions are and what options are available. Knowing is different to implementing. Every situation is different but similar documentation is needed for sourcing care or advice. Resistance is a huge challenge when we are parenting our parents. The reasons for resistance can be many as they are varied – grief, anger, fear, loss of control, being ignored or not understanding what is needed. Working with our aged loved ones not against them is the key to a successful and harmonious caring journey. As Jean points out that our aged loved ones being involved with decisions and discussions about their care helps them to feel in control and can alleviate some of the resistance. All relationships take work and when you start parenting your parents this can be very challenging especially if you have had difficulties throughout the years.

We Need to Talk about Mum and Dad Some people have been parenting their parents for years and some people haven’t spoken to parents in years but when it comes to parents needing care it seems the past doesn’t matter we just get on and do what needs to be done. But it doesn’t mean it is easy. We all have to find out our own way of caring – some of us take a hands on method and do everything for them and some of us sit back and just let it happen. Neither is right or wrong. If we plug every hole and do everything for our aged loved ones when things go wrong then the right services aren’t found or adjusted to meet their needs. But if we sit back and let everything go “wrong” then our aged loved ones don’t get the care they need. I did say that parenting our parents wasn’t easy, didn’t I? Helicoptering parenting our parents or letting them stubble and finding their own way. Neither is appealing or the best way to approach the caring journey. There is a middle way – you just need to find the right path for all of you. It’s just like Maggie Beer shared with us in the December issue of the Carer’s Champion “What you do for them you take from them”.


Resources in the book include: 200 Questions to ask prior to going into an aged care home Questions to ask home care providers Useful websites The golden rules after being admitted to hospital Plus so much more Jean has incorporated advice, humour, information and lived experiences in an easy to read practical guide and she has shone a light on topics everyone parenting their parents need to know. Just a few more pearls of wisdom from Jean: Every aged loved one needs an advocate – are you your parent’s advocate? Caring for our parents is not a burden – in a blink of an eye we will be there too! Siblings have different perceptions – open and honest communication is important. Taking about the care needed will give your aged loved ones more control. Listen with empathy and compassion.

We Need to Talk about Mum and Dad I’d like to leave you with a few words from the book: “We all think we know what to do when the time comes, and there are many times that do come between frailty and ageing and helplessness and death, but we don’t. It is always difficult. Love is not enough. We all need help to know what to do, even what to say. Aged care is about life and it is about humility.” We Need To Talk About Mum and Dad is available at all good book stores Upcoming shows that Jean will be appearing in 2022 are Celebrity Apprentice and The Hundred. To check out more about Jean Kittson check out her website Final 3 Thoughts: Best Piece of advice: Be informed. Get your information from reliable sources. If in 5 years it won’t matter what do you wish you hadn’t spent more than 5 minutes on: Anxiety and worrying about the small things like having a clean office! Jean is passionate about connecting with people in her life. Especially in the last couple of years during the pandemic.


Editors Note: “We Need To Talk About Mum and Dad” is amazing and the best resource for people parenting their parents I have found. Not all things will resonate but the information provided is priceless and will help you in ways you never realised. Some people at 70 don’t need parenting however some people do. You know your aged loved one and you will know if you are helping them or patronising them. Jean’s parents have each and that is very important, being in their mid 90s and still living together in their retirement village. Loneliness in our aged loved ones is something we need to consider, don’t underestimate the power of engagement and inclusion. Any caring journey needs to ensure our aged loved ones are included, engaged and feel they are contributing.

The winner has been notified by email The winner of our book Tough...Tough Times...Tough Decisions








is DR

Check out the covering email for all the handouts and giveaways

Copy of Jean Kittson's Book We Need to Talk About Mum and Dad To enter click on "enter here" on the on the covering email. The winner will be contacted by email. *

Handout this month are: Details of the DCAF Connections event on 31 March


WHY I DO WHAT I DO! Introducing the people behind the products and services



I am a member of many groups that discuss aged care and one of the topics that we are always discussing is how to help our aged loved ones need to more into care how can we help them settle in properly. Let’s take away the emotion for a moment – I am not going to talk about the reasons your aged loved one is moving into aged care. That is a topic for another day. We will assume the decision has been made – it is time. How can you make it easier for your aged loved one? 14| THE CARER'S CHAMPION

Settling In

We were lucky Dad chose to go into a home – he was lonely and he saw a home as a way to engage with more people. But that being said there were still a few challenges. Many people – most people are not that lucky! There is a lot of resistance to going into an aged care home especially now. There has been a lot of negative media and I am not going to go into that in this article, as I said I am assuming the decision has been made and move-in day is here. What can you do to make it easier for everyone – including yourself. Speaking from experience and getting advice from Phillipa Hinton from Rosewood Aged Care in Perth.

Talk about what activities are going to be at the home – the different things they can do. Let them know how all the family will still visit – how they can call you if they want to talk. But – yes there is always a but! If they are resisting the move to the home you may have to change the way you do things – If they are getting upset when you talk about moving to the home or they are resisting then you may have to tell a few white lies., I know this is difficult but remember there is a reason your aged loved one is moving into the home. It is to make their life better even if they can’t see it at the moment.

Move-in day is here – how do you handle it? First of all - if you can engage your aged loved one in preparations – picking out what clothes to take, special items they want, pictures and books. Don’t forget to label the clothes.

Rosewood Aged Care Home


Settling In

Here are a few things you can do if there is resistance: Talk to the home and let them know there is some resistance Ask their advice Include the rest of the family – make sure you are on the same page A few white lies made be needed – maybe say they are going for respite. Remind them how much you love them and that you only have their welfare and care at heart.

There will be someone from the home to greet you and show your aged loved one to their room. In some cases they will unpack for them but I have always found it helps you if you do it. Making this part of the journey easier for you. Ask where they want things placed and show them where things are. The clinical team may do some assessments and depend on your aged loved ones condition it may be helpful if you are there.

I want you to take a deep breath. This is hard, it is ok to be emotional about this next stage of your aged loved one’s care.

Remember your aged loved one may “mask” their condition or even forget what is wrong with them.

Finding the right care doesn’t mean you don’t love them.... actually it means you love them so much you are going to find the best care for them.

No shame, no blame, no judgement just acknowledgement and understanding. Don’t overwhelm your aged loved one.

On the day of the move remember emotions are running high for them and for you! Lots of deep breathing and make sure you have someone with you so you can take a break if you need it.

Rosewood Aged Care Home


Settling In

This is a new phase for them – there could be grief and loss for them. You are not the only one who may be emotional. Don’t forget to share how your aged loved one is feeling with the staff at the home so they are aware of what is going on and they can adapt their response. Remember it is in their best interests to make sure your aged loved one settles in easily. Phillipa’s advice for carers: Make yourself a priority and take a step back You can still come into the homes and help out with the care – feeding, dressing etc Rebuild your relationship – from primary carer to their child again Everyone settles in differently – every day is different. One day everything is ok and the next they are on the phone demanding you come and pick them up, they want to come home.

It is heartbreaking when this happens. Here are my tips (recently we went through this with my partner’s mother): Breathe – there is nothing for you to feel guilty about. You are providing your aged loved one with the best care you can. Distraction is the key – ask them what activities they have been going to? Talk about the positives of the home. Ask them about people there, who are they eating their meals with etc. I want you to do something – next time you visit spy on them! Yes spy on them. Look what they are doing when you aren’t there – the people they are engaged with, the activities they do. There will be things they don’t tell you. Talk to the staff – they will know what is going on! There will come a time you need to tell them they are there permanently – gently and with compassion explain why they are there. Don’t blame them, don’t shame them just give a few examples of how they need more care than can be given at home.

No Guilt, No Blame, No Shame! Just Understanding! 17| THE CARER'S CHAMPION

Settling In

Visiting is tough – you need to give them time to adjust to being in the home, to meeting new people and if you are there all the time they won’t do the activities. If you can work around the activities schedule. Phone them. Ask other family members to visit and phone too. But make sure you are all on the same page – don't have one member of the family saying “you will be going home soon” if others are saying they are there permanently. There is no set time for settling in – it is different for each and every person. Celebrate the wins and learn from the tough days.

After the quoits game we spoke with her about how things are going – she said ok and that she wasn’t doing much. Now this could be because her memory isn’t so great or it could be she doesn’t want us to know she is having a good time. We don’t know the reason but we do know she is engaging and being included in the activities. We also speak regularly with the staff to find out how she is going – clinically and socially.

On one of our visits, My partner and I noticed his mother in the dining room with other residents.

Each and every visit is different and we feel different after each visit. It is important for you to have a good support network to talk about your feelings.

We stood back and watch her. They were singing Christmas carols, she was smiling and enjoying herself.

I’ve shared my experience with you and now I want to give you an insight to how an aged care home approaches the situation.

Then they played a game of Quoits – as we stood peering around the corner trying hard not to be seen, our hearts melted and there may have been some emotions flowing from our eyes as our aged loved one fist-pumped the air and cheered as she got 4 out of 5 quoits on the ring. It was such a great moment. We hadn’t seen her so happy in ages.


Settling In

Phillipa explained Rosewood has been around since 1950s and recently opened a new home in Perth, so they have had lots of experience with settling in new residents. They have learned a thing or two over the years. Starting with the initial contact making sure that services are available for your aged loved ones’ condition. Helping residents to settle in is just as important for the staff as it is for the families. The staff has heard it often – “I want to go home” so they know how to deal with the emotions the new resident is feeling. Getting to know the individual likes and dislikes is one way Rosewood staff help residents to feel at home. Taking the time to find a way to make them feel welcome. Rosewood prides itself in building a culture amongst their staff were looking after the residents as if they are their own family. Communicating with families to make this phase in the aged care journey as easy as possible for everyone.


Finding the right aged care home is important and Phillipa suggests the following: Ask questions Take a tour Ask to talk to other residents Try respite first Find a home with activities that will suit your aged loved ones. Start looking early – when you have the time not when a crisis happens. If a problem arises talk to the aged care home – they want to know so they can fix it. Each journey is different. If you want to find out more about Rosewood please click here Final 3 thoughts: Best piece of advice: Make people feel important so they feel listened to. If in 5 years it won’t matter what do you wish you hadn’t spent more than 5 minutes on: Being anxious about performance management discussions with staff. Phillipa is passionate about ballett, talent spotting and helping staff to develop. She loves mentoring staff. Editor note: Settling in to aged care is tough and I wanted to pass on my lived experience plus give you some insight from an aged care home. But most importantly I want you to stress less and not feel guilty about finding the right care for your aged loved ones.

The Fit Matters!

It doesn’t matter what the size is or if it is wide or narrow finding the right fitting shoe makes all the difference. Our feet do a lot of work – holding us up all day, getting us from place to place if they are working properly it is easy to know if things don’t feel right. We get sore, we know when they don’t fit well. But what happens if we can’t verbalise how our feet feel or if we can’t feel our feet. Does it mean we don’t deserve to have the right fit? I am going to be honest here – I've never really thought about my aged loved ones’ shoes – there are so many other things on my mind about caring for her that I haven’t given a thought to shoes. But it is about time that I did – maybe just maybe if she had comfortable shoes she would walk more or it would be easier for her to walk? I know how I feel when I am wearing uncomfortable shoes, wouldn’t it be the same for her? It is never too late to make them comfortable. But how do I get the right shoes? We don’t tale her shopping – she doesn’t want to go. I know her size and that she has a wide foot. Is there anything else I need to know? 20| THE CARER'S CHAMPION

I asked Dr Gina Kingston for her advice. Gina has a great deal of experience with adaptive clothing and she had some great tips for me. When finding the right shoe for clients Gina not only looks a the fit but at the client’s lifestyle and what the shoe is needed for. Here are some of the things to consider: What is the shoe needed for? Protecting the feet Comfort Warmth Mobility Are they in a wheelchair all day? How easy is it for them to walk? How often are they walking How do they walk – if they slide their feet make sure the tread on the shoe isn’t sticky. Or do they need to have more grip? Does the client where orthotics or splints? Does the ankle length interfere?

The Fit Matters!

Ok so there is a lot to this, not only for the client but for the carer too – if the shoes don’t slide enough the carer could be injured. The internal fitting is very important too. Something else to consider is if your aged loved ones have pressure sores or points on their feet. Are the seams rubbing against a sore point and causing issues. If your aged loved ones don’t have any feeling in their feet it is up to you to make sure there are no red marks. Our feet can be different too – just to through in something else to be aware of. Sizing, feeling and pressure points on both feet need to be addressed. There are adaptive shoes available – some with Velcro that opens the whole shoe up for ease of fitting for the client and for the carer. What is important to the client – is it comfort, style or purpose? Finding the balance when finding the right shoe is important. Wearing shoes that look good but hurt or limits mobility can be an issue. Remember when we look good we feel good!


Gina shared that one of her contacts – Daisy couldn’t find shoes that would accommodate her orthotics and her personality so she designed her own. The height of the shoe also matters, not everyone can wear flat shoes either! The first thing that Gina does when she is helping her clients find the right fit and shoe is to talk to them, asking them what they want. What they see their issues are and what they are looking for. Do they want the same as they have now or something different? Often she uses existing shoes for measurements especially if mobility is an issue for her clients. Each case is different and each client has a different priority. Gina then sets about sourcing the right shoe and fit – checking online and asking for recommendations. A few of the brands that Gina has used are: Every Human – a great brand that also sells single shoes for amputees and people who need different sizes. Sketches – orthotic friendly and have fewer seams.

The Fit Matters! Just a reminder some people don’t complain – especially our aged loved ones. They are used to just getting on with things. I often hear it – I don’t want to complain my carers do so much for me. It will be ok. Just to recap a few things that are important when finding the right fit for your aged loved ones: Are they comfortable Are they happy with the footwear Look for pressure sores Are they using a shoehorn all the time – may be the shoe isn’t the right size and large size is needed. Make sure they don’t fall off easily especially when they are walking and cause a trip hazard. There is a lot to consider when finding the right shoe and fit. If you need help please contact Gina at Gina is available to help you and your aged loved ones to find the right fit in all adaptive clothing. Don’t forget to check out Gina’s column each and every month in the Carer’s Champion.


Cycling Without Age

Inclusion and engagement at its best. How do you take your aged loved ones out and about keeping them mobile even if mobility is an issue? I’ve got the answer for you! I spoke with Wayne from Cycle Without Age. Scrolling through social media I had seen a couple of pictures and I wanted to know more. Wayne runs the Gold Coast chapter and I was surprised to find out that Cycle Without Age can be found in 52 counties. The oldest person that has taken a ride with Cycle Without Age is 110 years young! In Australia: First Trishaw 2016 33 places 75 Trishaws 500 volunteers Oldest volunteer 79

According to their website, Cycling Without Age is a not-for-profit charity that provides a community service by connecting those no longer able to ride for themselves with their community and the outdoors by giving them free rides on trishaw ebikes, piloted by volunteer cyclists. Let’s break this down – a group of volunteers take people who have mobility issues, of all ages, for about 5kms (usually 40-45 minutes) on electric Trishaws. Amazing! I love this idea and since speaking with Wayne I have been mentioning it to everyone! I love everything about this! The Volunteers give of their time so people can experience that sense of freedom as they cycle past sights that they may never have seen before. The Gold Coast track is designed to give the passengers the best experience by riding along a path that takes in water views where dolphins can sometimes be seen. They go past a café too and the interaction from bystanders is always welcome.


Cycling Without Age Wayne Sticher

Actually, the interaction makes the trip very special. A scout rider lets people know that Trishaws are following – something very special then happens – people stop and wave, talking to the passengers and some even give them flowers. Inclusion and engagement! Oh yeah – did I mention it was free! Open to whoever wants a ride this is a perfect way to reduce loneliness and isolation. Just imagine the sense of freedom as wind is gently blowing in their passenger’s faces as they are chauffeured around greeting people. There are two sides to this great not-for-profit community service: Volunteering – riders and concierge services – piloting the electric Trishaw or greeting the passengers and getting them ready for their rides engages the passenger. The Trishaw makes it easier to talk to the passenger as they are sitting in front of you and you see what they are seeing. Greeters have a very important part in the process and make sure the passengers are at ease and ready for “the ride of their life”. Passengers – of all ages – included and engaged. Being out in the fresh air and being mobile again. Talking with bystanders and viewing sights for a different view. Opening a whole new world for them. 24| THE CARER'S CHAMPION

Cycle Without Age gratefully accepts donations and is supported through corporate and government grants. Recently the Bendigo Bank has funded a Trishaw that takes a wheelchair which will mean this wonderful service will be open up to even more people who will have their whole world opened up. Wayne explained that they are also a part of the Council’s Active and Healthy Aging Program. If you are looking for a way to help out get in contact with Wayne and he will help you find a local “Cycling Without Age” or even help you start one in your area! As Wayne says “Volunteering is great, gives you a sense of contribution plus exercise. It puts a skip in your step – a song in your heart because you are changing people’s lives. Giving back to the community. A win/win for everyone. There is no down side.” Wayne is very passionate about helping others to be included and engaged and believes this is the perfect way.

Cycling Without Age

Cycling Without Age Australia is a not-for-profit charity regulated by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). The incorporated association is governed by a Management Committee. If you want to be part of this great community service get in contact with Wayne, who is also a key contact for the Gold Coast Cycling Without Age at GoldCoast Or go to Final 3 Thoughts: Best piece of advice: What Don’t I know? There is always something I don’t know. Don’t be quick to judge without knowing the full reasons. Ask yourself “What Don’t I know”? If in 5 years it won’t matter what do you wish you hadn’t spent more than 5 minutes on: Trying to make irresponsible people accountable for their actions. Wayne is passionate about Cycling Without Age and also Adventure Cycling. Finishing cycling across Australia from East to West by Bike.


Editor’s Note: What a great community service Cycling Without Age is for both the passengers and the volunteers. Getting out and about in the fresh air. Engaging and including people and from speaking with Wayne it is really apparent that the volunteers get just as much from this experience.

The Carer's Champion Affiliates Page Please note that the affiliate links below are for products and services I recommend. I may receive a small amount of money if you use the link to purchase and a % of anything I make from your purchase will go to the Carer's Champions Charities. I am also a CareAbout Contributor.

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The Carer's Champion Affiliates Page Please note that the affiliate links below are for products and services I recommend. I may receive a small amount of money if you use the link to purchase and a % of anything I make from your purchase will go to the Carer's Champions Charities. I am also a CareAbout Contributor

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A DAY IN THE LIFE! What they do to make it work for you!

HOW THAT EMPTY ROOM CAN HELP YOU CARE FOR YOUR AGED LOVED ONE! We are always told to “think outside the box”, especially during the last couple of years but can we do it that with aged care? I believe we can – we already do it, over the last few years with self-managed home care packages instead of traditional home care packages.


How That Empty Room Can Help You Care For Your Aged Loved One! It is well documented that our aged loved ones want to stay in their own homes but the homes are too big for them and they need extra help. What is the solution? When I heard about The Room Xchange I thought this was a great solution for many reasons and I spoke with Ludwina Dautovic from The Room Xchange to find out more about their house-sharing platform. The Room Xchange is Australia’s first verified house-sharing and rental platform. All registered users must have a Digital iD by Australia Post, creating a safe and active community. Profiles are created and they make it easy to match landlords and renters based on personality, values, and lifestyle so you feel like you’re coming home to a friend. Your choice to rent or rent offset gives you the option to choose how you wish to use your resource – your spare bedroom. You may wish to ask for rent or you could ask for basic domestic help or companionship in return for rent and/or bills. It’s up to you how you wish to use your asset – your spare bedroom.


There are a variety of demographics who use The Room Xchange. Millennials are a primary one as the cost of housing is so high that house-sharing is the obvious option. However, more and more we’re seeing couples renting their spare bedroom, people living alone opting to house-share and older persons who are alone and crave company are now house-sharing as well. Loneliness is a concern for our aged loved ones – according to a study by APS and Swinburne University (2018) at least 13% of older adults over 65 years old experience loneliness. Lone person households in Australia are predicted to grown from 2.1 million households in 2011 to 3.4 million in 2036 – not only is this an issue for loneliness but infrastructure and the housing market. Not to mention that there aren’t enough aged care placements available and the waiting list for home care packages can be long.

How That Empty Room Can Help You Care For Your Aged Loved One! Who cares for our aged loved ones? Family members are taking on more of the caring role but we are working longer and living longer. As we age this will be an issue for many. That’s where The Room Xchange comes in. The Room Xchange began five years ago and has recently pivoted to a new model – Verify, connect, rent. They believe that you should have flexibility in how you want to live and how you wish to use your asset – your spare room. This pivot has opened the doors to a new way of renting which has proven to be the right direction for their company. The company was started by Ludwina when her first child left home, feeling the empty nest emotions in full force, crying for a year every time she walked past his bedroom. Then Ludwina did what many people do at this time and listed it on a short-term holiday platform. Loving the random nature of people coming in and out of her home and the excitement it brought, but not liking the work that was attached to it. Ludwina’s other adult child, who was still living at home, had some friends who were traveling and needed somewhere to stay, they opened their home and this model just organically formed from there.


There are three great features of The Room Xchange and ones that are unique in the house-sharing industry. Verification – All registered users must be verified which keeps the community safe and current. Connection – Their profiles match you based on personality, values and lifestyle so you feel like you’re coming home to a friend. Rent – you choose what renting means to you. Is it cash payment or using your time to offset the rent? Extensive research by The Room Xchange has found that some of the challenges by landlords and renters are: Trusting that the person is who they say they are. Finding someone they can get alone with. Not being able to afford the right place Finding other ways to utilise your space

How That Empty Room Can Help You Care For Your Aged Loved One! The Room Xchange has an entire resource section that is free to everyone who is in the rental space. They have articles, links, videos, editable templates and even a podcast show – The Room Xchange Podcast, which is found on all major podcast directories. Ludwina’s advice for people who want to rent out a room in their house is to think about a person you look forward to seeing when you get home. Someone who sits in the same rhythm of life that you do. Someone who shares similar values and thinks the same way. Take your time. Interview potential tenants. Have dinner and a laugh and see how you fit. And her advice for renters is to make sure you give yourself some time, so you have the time to find the right fit. Ask good questions. Think about a scenario where you may disagree and how would that be resolved.


The more I hear about The Room Xchange the more I think it can help aged loved ones stay in their homes longer. If your aged loved one is on a level 1 or 2 package and they can manage at home but just need a bit of extra help around the home, someone to talk to or share a meal with then this could be a great option. This will help your aged loved one maintain some independence too. However, the biggest bonus would be that family members don’t need to be there everyday – just a phone call would be ok. With this arrangement your aged loved one could offset some of their “care hours” from domestic duties to physical care. Helping everyone. Traditionally, the only option people have to pay for their rent is with money. With The Room Xchange, a housemate looking for a room to rent, has the option to pay with money or with their time. When they create their profile, they can list what their rent budget is and how many hours of help they’re happy to offer to offset some or all the rent.

How That Empty Room Can Help You Care For Your Aged Loved One! The household can add on their profile the same option in the hope they find someone who is happy to assist them at home. It’s a matter of negotiating what that would look like, what kind of help the housemate is willing to do, the number of hours they’re happy to offer and the value per hour they feel it’s worth. The Room Xchange has a rent offset calculator on their website for both households and housemates to help them calculate what that might be. If you decide to use The Room Xchange some of the things you need to consider are: Compatibility is a huge one. You want to make sure that they are well matched and The Room Xchange profiling system will certainly help with that. Security – The Digital iD verification process will give you peace of mind knowing that all the housemates have a Digital iD by Australia Post. You can see the badge on their profile as well.


Flexibility – Understanding that the housemate will have a life too. They could be working, studying, or following a life pursuit. Their availability will need to be worked around their life as well. House-share agreement – The Room Xchange has a template on their website that can be used to help you negotiate the terms and what you have agreed on. It’s not a legal document but more of an understanding of what you all agreed on. The Room Xchange is a matching platform only and any agreements that you enter is up to you. I’d also like to mention that family members need to be included in the agreements so they know what is going on. Understanding the expectations on both sides is very important. Understanding the effects renting out a room can have on your aged loved one’s financial situation, in particular their pension. See a financial adviser. Companion care is different to physical care and you need to ensure the differences are understood by everyone.

How That Empty Room Can Help You Care For Your Aged Loved One! It’s always helpful to have a carer or family member support your elder person when going through this process. The technology may be a little daunting for an aged person. It’s also a good idea to have someone else make the right decisions about who would be ideal for your elder person. You could also do a one-week trial and see how it goes. The Room Xchange is building a resource hub for all things related to renting and house-sharing. Their website has about 30 articles, FAQ’s, links to tenancy organisations, editable templates and videos. On The Room Xchange Podcast they talk to several people in the renting and house-sharing space to provide you with further information. I was thrilled to be a guest recently. To get started go to If you’re not ready to create a profile now, you can sign up to their newsletter and get fortnightly updates. If you like to listen to podcasts, look for The Room Xchange Podcast on all major podcast directories. You can also find each episode in their blog on the website.


Website: Podcast - Linkedin c/ Testimonial “ I didn’t want to go to a nursing home. I wanted to stay in my own home with my wonderful friends and Neighbours around me. Sharing my house with Ms gave me peace of mind knowing ai had someone here should I need it.” Elderly Retiree M. Final Three thoughts What is the best bit of advice you have ever received? My elder grandmother told me this when I was 16 years old – “Don’t ever stop learning or growing.” Have you heard the saying – If in 5 years it won’t matter don’t spend more than 5 minutes on it. What do you wish you didn’t spend more than 5 minutes on. Wondering where I’d be in five year’s time. Life changes so quickly and I change with each experience. Being open to what may surprise me is much more fun than being locked into a five-year plan. We all have something we are passionate about – what's your passion – That’s easy. My art. At the age of 50 I discovered I have artistic talent. I started painting as a form of meditation and I haven’t stopped! I love painting portraits in charcoal and oil. I also enjoy painting landscapes in soft pastel. I often say, by day I’m a tech entrepreneur and by night I’m a bohemian artist!

How That Empty Room Can Help You Care For Your Aged Loved One! Editors Note: This option isn’t for everyone however I think it is a great way to keep some of our aged loved ones in their own home, solve the loneliness issue, help family members who care for their aged loved ones, help renters find some more renting solutions and also fill some of those empty rooms that we know are out there. Ludwina from The Room Xchange will be joining me on a free webinar I am hosting on 30 March 2022 – “Taking the Confusion out of Finding the Right Care” where we will be talking with guest speakers to help you find the right care for your aged loved ones. It’s Free and if you can’t make it to the live event we will send you the recording! Just click here to sign up:


What's the Difference and Does it Matter? Previously I have spoken with Kerrie O’Brien from North Shore Retirement and Aged Care Consulting about finding the right aged care home and this month I wanted to know information about retirement villages. Everywhere we look there seems to be a new retirement village popping up. Have you ever considered moving into one? What do you need to know? We have all heard the horror stories from years ago – parents moving into retirement villages but never really owning the property and lots of financial issues when exiting. This has changed. There have been new regulations passed to protect residents. That being said there is still a lot of things you need to know and consider when entering a retirement village. The best time to move into a retirement village is when it’s not too late to benefit from the amenities, social and community activities on offer. It is important to be able to live independently. Is this the right move for you or your aged loved one?


Time to take off the rose coloured glasses and be realistic – being able to live independently is a consideration. Will extra care be needed sooner rather than later? A move to a Retirement Village is really a lifestyle decision and not necessarily a financial one due to ongoing and exit fees that apply, so to gain value you really want to be well enough to enjoy all that is on offer. Deferred management fees are typically only charged for the first 5-6 years of residency. The level of assisted living services offered varies from village to village. Some offer no in house services and if you need extra care or help this needs to be arranged privately or through the community, Commonwealth Home Support Program or a Home Care Package. Some villages offer services onsite, such as meals in the dining room, laundering of linen, and basic nursing services such as medication management and wound dressing. These are usually subject to an additional fee. Some villages have onsite staff to deliver personal care/domestic help and can take on the resident’s Home Care Package.

What's the Difference and Does it Matter? All units/apartments typically have emergency call buttons that can be pressed to access help 24/7. In the context that someone moved into a Serviced Apartment within a Retirement Village, as part of the fees paid, they would normally receive a weekly clean of their apartment, laundering of linen and have all meals provided. A Retirement Village is not really a suitable option for someone who needs a high level of care. Kerrie shared several things people need to look at when considering a Retirement Village: What are their current health and mobility like? If mobility is an issue or maybe in the future – consideration of a ground floor unit or if the second level – is there a lift/ability to use an electric stair lift. If needing a wheelchair is the village flat or on a slope? Are paths wide enough/flat/easily accessible? Are there any steps down or into the unit. Are the unit doors wide enough/the bathroom large enough for wheelchair access?


The reality is that many Retirement Villages particularly in Sydney have been around for 30 + years and historically had younger residents for whom these issues were not necessarily concerns. As residents entering Retirement Villages have become increasingly older these issues as well as the need to consider care needs and the future ability of the village to provide care services or to access in home care services need to be considered. Are there health issues (e.g. dementia) which may mean that a move to Residential Care may become required in a few years? You really need to be able to live independently within a Retirement Village although and as you become older you can still access some in-home care. Is there a need for one member of a spouse to enter Residential Aged Care first, in which case is a Retirement Village adjacent or near to an Aged Care facility appropriate? Does the resident still drive? If yes – is there ease of parking/a garage nearby? If not, is there the ability to access public transport, walk to nearby shops, catch a village bus to the shops?

What's the Difference and Does it Matter? Does the resident still drive? If yes – is there ease of parking/a garage nearby? If not, is there the ability to access public transport, walk to nearby shops, catch a village bus to the shops? What amenities are on offer and what is the community like? This varies across facilities. Some villages are very social and offer a lot of activities and engagement whereas some may be smaller and do not. Some may offer lots of facilities but you may not use them even though you are paying for them in ongoing fees. Some amenities may be of particular importance such as a restaurant/café on site. Fees – You need to be aware upfront of all costs both ingoing, ongoing and on exit. These costs may for example differ across different contract options. You need to make sure that such a move is affordable on an ongoing basis and whether such a move may impact for example on any Centrelink entitlements. It is worth obtaining financial and legal advice before entering a Retirement Village contract.


As with Residential Aged Care, different facilities have different offerings and at different prices. Residential Aged Care tends to be accessed once care needs cannot be met in the home, although there are still many facilities that offer low care as well as high care. The cost structure is very different to Residential Aged Care. Tips for finding the right retirement village: Tour villages thoroughly. Talk to existing residents and give consideration as to whether a village meets your needs both now as well as further into the future. Speak to a professional. Don’t make a rushed decision. Take your time to look at options.

What's the Difference and Does it Matter? North Shore Retirement and Aged Care Consulting have extensively visited Retirement Village complexes across the Sydney’s North Shore, Northern Beaches and surrounds. As such we have extensive knowledge of the options available: types of accommodation, all applicable costs, amenities and care services offered. This enables us to shortlist appropriate villages for consideration that meet our client’s needs, budget and location preference. To get in contact with North Shore Retirement and Aged Care Consulting just click here One bit of advice Kerrie gives to carers is to take time for yourself every now and again. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support.

Final 3 thoughts What is the best bit of advice you have ever received. You don’t ask you don’t get. Have you heard the saying – If in 5 years it won’t matter don’t spend more than 5 minutes on it. What do you wish you didn’t spend more than 5 minutes on. Facebook scrolling. We all have something we are passionate about – what's your passion : Helping others. Not just as an occupation but I enjoy my charity and community involvement.

Finding the right option takes a bit of time – it is never too early to start talking about options. Knowing what your aged loved ones want and need. Understanding their financial situation as well as their medical situation to make the right decisions. Give Kerrie a call to have a chat about the different options.

Ask for help! You don't have to do this alone 38 | THE CARER'S CHAMPION

Enhancing The Interaction One theme that keeps coming up in all the interviews I have been doing lately – is interaction and inclusion. Keeping our aged loved ones engaged. How do you do it? It isn’t always easy especially as your aged loved one’s condition deteriorates. I know I personally find it harder and harder to find topics to talk to our aged loved one about. We can’t keep talking about that “virus” or what is going on “outside” when we have recently moved her to an aged care home. The settling-in period can be tough. How do we enhance the interaction and keep them engaged especially when we aren’t there? Speaking with Ted Fischer the CEO of Ageless Innovation I stumbled across a great resource that I believe will help and is a lot of fun too! Robotic Pets that are pet companions.

Ted Fischer


Ted worked for a large toy company that produced ‘pet companions” for the young girl market however doing some research they found that the pet companion was often purchased for an aged loved one. With more research, they decided to market the pet companions solely for the aged. A few business decisions later Ageless Innovation was born and went their own way and now they have created a business dedicated to bringing comfort, companionship and fun to our aged loved ones. The interactive cats and pup are all about an ease-of-care and convenience that pairs with technology for the best possible experience. Ted shared with me how his Grandmother was the reason he persisted with this technology and why the company is also developing new products – which will be on the market soon and when they are I will let you know about them. Being in an aged care home, Ted noticed his grandmother was lonely and he wanted to find a way to help her feel more engaged. Even though she had regular visitors there was still a large part of the day she was by herself. After introducing her to a pet companion she became more engaged and her life was enhanced. And that is what we all want for our aged loved ones

Enhancing The Interaction

I often see people caring dolls at my aged loved one’s aged care home, and as Ted and I discussed how this can make some people feel a bit uncomfortable – seeing an elderly person playing with a doll, I realised I was one of those people. Yes, I am putting my hand up and letting you know that I did think it was strange and I wondered why. Of course, I get it – they want to care for someone, they want to feel the connection but is there interaction? Plus we are conditioned to think that kids play with dolls not our aged. But pets are for all ages – this is one of the many benefits of a Pet Companion. Our preconceived prejudice isn’t there. We all know the benefit of patting a pet – stroking the furry bundle brings so much joy. A few years ago we purchased a dog for our aged loved one – she always wanted a small white dog. He lives with us but is hers – visited her often. We got to clean up after him, to feed him, to put up with his barking and yes to get the unconditional love he gives all of us especially our aged loved one and it is worth it.

But, what if you can’t have a real live pet – many of our aged loved ones can’t even look after themselves so having something that brings all the benefits without the “hassels” is the perfect solution. Ted said that studies have found that the Pet Companions bring fun, joy, play and calmness to their owners. Play is a basic human need and doing something that is fun shouldn’t be denied just because we are getting older. We continued talking about the Pet Companions and how they not only benefited our aged loved ones but also the carers. From giving carers a break while our aged loved ones spend time with their pet to a new way to engage and create interaction plus the added bonus of having something to talk about without the challenges of a live pet. Using barkback technology the pets are very cute! In their home or in an aged care home the companion pets are an easy solution to helping to keep your aged loved one engaged.


Enhancing The Interaction

Not replacing the human interaction but enhancing it. They are battery operated and depending on use will last six months or so, with a sleep mode if not in use. Ted’s advice for carers is to embrace the moment and have fun. Find ways to enhance your aged loved ones lives. Bring joy and happiness to their lives. Create some magic and talk about. After getting up at 3am this morning to let our dog outside for a nature call I can really see the benefit of a Pet Companion!

Final 3 thoughts: Best piece of advice received: Everything happens for a reason. If in 5 years it won’t matter what do you wish you hadn’t spent more than 5 minutes on: The things that didn’t work out! Ted is passionate about: Family/fitness/sports and making a difference each day. Editor's Note: A live pet is great, however if it isn't practical to have a pet then the Companion Pet is a great option. They are cute, they engage and interact.

Being serious for a moment – a pet companion is a great idea to keep your aged loved on engaged, giving them something to care for and to talk about. I love this idea. To find out more about pet companions go to Yes, they are available in Australia too! Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the new products coming soon!


Another great product to help our aged loved ones.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT Shining a light on Products and Services!

You don't know what you don't know! In this section I will sharing different products and services with you. Products and services that can make the caring journey easier for you and for your aged loved ones. Not all of the products and services will be right for you but it will show you what is available. When we know better we do better!



We all want it our own way. When we want it. How we want it.

Pieta’s mum is in this very situation – living

Care on our terms!

on the “outskirts” in a small community while Pieta lives interstate. Needing care with

But it often doesn’t work out that way!

some of her daily tasks but still able to live alone Pieta’s mum didn’t want to leave her

I was really pleased to have a chat with


Pieta Manning from Mable an online platform where you choose the care you

Getting on board with Mable meant that

want to meet your needs.

support was found in the local area and she received the care she needed which put

Not only is Pieta part of the management

Pieta’s mind at rest.

team at Mable she uses the service for her daughter and her mother.

Using Mable also gives clients a say in the way the care is delivered and by whom –

Pieta took on the management role after

keeping the client engaged with all decisions.

using the service because of her positive

Traditional providers tell you when and what


support but with Mable you choose. Using Mable gives clients more control in their own

Mable is a great way for people to connect


with carers in their local areas to get the

Social care and qualified care (OTs. Nurses)

support they need within their community.

are available.

Self-managed funds are great for the Mable platform – you can choose how to use your

Skills, hobbies and likes across a broad range

NDIS or Home Care Package funding.

to meet everyone’s tastes.

Pieta share her families caring journey with me and raised a few situations that I hadn’t

We all know that it is important for people to

realised before.

feel engaged and include and Mable is a great way to help your aged loved ones achieve that engagement. Not just a carer but support.



Mable also gives you the security of doing all the appropriate checks – police and references. Verfication of skills, particularly physical care skills. It is important that the right carer is engaged for specialised physical care. Mable also takes care of timesheets and insurances. Full transparency for both the client and the carer. Developing a relationship between clients and carers. Something else that I thought was really good was that you can have any number of support carer’s you need – a different carer for the different support needed. The platform is a great resource for families to know what is going on. Every time a carer provides support they can leave a shift note and families can have access to the notes. This is really important for many reasons: Long-distance family members are aware of any issues Professionalism and accountability Updates on clients' needs – any new clothes needed? Different foods?

Another positive from this arrangement for Pieta’s mother is that she feels she is contributing to the community by engaging two carers from her community. There is also great benefit from having people around our aged loved ones that are from the local community, people who are invested in the same community. Pieta believes Mable is a game-changer and the positive outcomes are massive where engagement and inclusion are incorporated with the physical care. It can be more work, in the beginning, to set up the agreements between the carers and the client which usually falls to the family but according to Pieta it is well worth it especially if you self manage your funding. There is a video chat feature on the Mable platform where you can interview the carer. Photos can also be uploaded in the shift notes. You can search your postcode to find carers specialised in what you need – care or




One of the Mable Stories that Pieta shared was about a family where the father, who lived interstate, would visit each year but as he aged and needed more care he didn’t want to travel to his family anymore because he needed help with his personal care and he didn’t want to inconvenience

Finding the right care done their way is

his family.

important for your aged loved one.

Contacting Mable, the family arranged for a

Getting the care they need and when they

carer to provide personal care for their

need it, keeping them included and engaged

father during his visit. He enjoyed his visits

while feeling in control and giving families

and he didn’t feel a burden to his family.

peace of mind.

This brings me to another feature – you can

To find out more about Mable go to

self-fund the care, you pay for it and it

doesn’t come from any of the funding provided.

Final 3 thoughts Best piece of advice: Start where you are, use

A great gift for your aged loved ones.

what you have and do what you can If in 5 years it won’t matter what do you wish you hadn’t spent more than 5 minutes on: My aged care website. Pieta is passionate about inclusion in the community, and everyone feels they are valued and have a place. Editors Note: Self-managed funding is another way to approach home care packages and I will be providing more information on self-managed


funds in the near future.

ONE SIZE DOESN'T FIT ALL! Whether you call it a Bra, Brazier, Over the

Gillian explained that traditional bras don’t

shoulder boulder holder or undergarment

work for our aged loved ones – soft or

all women have worn them at one time or

underwires just aren’t suitable.

another. When a bra isn’t tight enough the breast falls We all know that the fit is important. But

out. What you are looking for is a bra that

what do you do to make sure your aged

stays in place and gives nice support.

loved one is fitted properly? Easy right – simple as that. If it was that easy An ill-fitting bra is uncomfortable and

I wouldn’t need to share this information

usually stays in the draw without ever

with you.

being worn. There are lots of options available and Gillian As we age our body changes shape and our

has provided some tips:

clothes size changes too, especially our bra

Don’t ignore the situation – if you can’t


find the right fit yourself ask for help –

It is important to regularly check our aged

there are fitting services available that

loved one’s sizing to make their clothes are

will help

comfortable for them.

All cotton bras are comfortable however so elastic is needed to keep the shape

We all have our own preferences and we

Consider the carer – do they need help

know how to find our own bra but how do

getting dressed – will the carer be the

you fit someone else?

one putting the bra on your loved one Is back or front closing easier

Fitting a bra isn’t easy so I went to an

Is an over the head a better option-

expert to find out the right way to find the

sitting all day the clips at the back may

perfect bra for an aged loved one.

cause a problem Wide straps are better and more

Gillian from Colleen’s specialises in fitting


women who have breast health issues and

Wide at the sides provides good support

has a wealth of knowledge to get the right

The extender gives relief for women with

fit and most importantly a comfortable fit.

larger back and small breast size


ONE SIZE DOESN'T FIT ALL! We often hear that when we look good we feel good and this is the same with finding the right bra size. Giving our aged loved ones some dignity to continue to look good. Gillian and I spoke about how easy it was to slip into “no bra” wearing when at home but what happens when they go out or in an aged care home being nicely dressed is important, especially to our aged loved ones' generation. You can still dress well and be comfortable. When our aged loved ones don’t feel properly dressed they can stop seeing visitors, refuse to get in pictures – or even feel naked without the proper undergarments. No, not everyone feels like this however it is something to consider to help them feel more comfortable and enhance their lives. As we continued talking I soon began to realise that it wasn’t just about fitting a bra but it was about giving them back their dignity.

Free webinar - Taking the confusion out of finding the right care - 30 March Sign up here


When Gillian sees a client for a fitting there are a few things she asks: What do they prefer – lace and pretty bras What do they want What makes them feel comfortable Do they dress themselves Are they mobile Remember it isn’t just about wearing a bra it is about posture, self-esteem and dignity. Gillian asks clients to bring in a bra previously worn and then she will offer a couple to try.

Some other things to consider are: Shelf Bras – that come in a singlet form and sized S/M/L/Ex L No underwires after a certain age Being able to put their own bra on can also give a sense of independence

ONE SIZE DOESN'T FIT ALL! Anyone can bring their aged loved one in for a bra fitting – actually Gillian mentioned that a lot of sons bring in their Mother and leave them in Gillians' very capable hands to find the right fitting. It can be a difficult conversation to have with your aged loved one but it does need to be had. Gillian can be contacted at

Special Offer Medimart is offering 5% off Uccello Kettles for Carer's Champion Readers

There is an online shop and Gillian has graciously offered that if you are having problems with finding a place for a fitting you can contact her via her website and she will help you. Editors note: This is an area I have struggled with on my caring journey, our 95 year old loved one needs new bras but it is difficult to fit her as her body has changed so much and for all the reasons above – most days when she is at home she didn’t wear a bra and now she is in a home she doesn’t want to wear one. Gillian’s advice has been great for us and I will be talking to her again in August about how to fit a bra when you have a breast wound or breast health issues.


This special offer is available up until the end of April. On the website enter the code ‘kettle5’ and it will trigger this discount.

CUSTOM PHONE COVERS Provided by Prints By Kev Our Custom Medical Alert phone cases are designed as a functional medical alert that can be carried at all times. They can stop a small emergency from becoming a life threatening situation. This is especially useful for the aging population and carers since it provides added peace of mind in case of an emergency that may render the person unresponsive or incoherent. We hope that it will never need to be used for its intended purpose, however if something were to happen, first responders can quickly identify the person and instantly see a list of their allergies, conditions or illnesses, without even needing to get into the person's phone. They can simply turn it over and find all the relevant information. The printed emergency contact number also allows first responders to quickly contact carers to alert them of the situation.

Our cases are made from TPU, making them extremely strong and shockproof, while still being lightweight. All our Custom Medical Alert phone cases come with our “No Fade, No Peel Guarantee”, backed by our 12 Month Print Warranty. This is because we use the best available printing techniques and inks. Our strict quality control gives us the confidence to offer the longest print warranty on the market. We've made the process as simple as possible to order a case! All orders can be placed through our website by selecting the Custom Medical Alert phone case. After selecting your phone model and text colour, just fill in the information you would like printed. If your phone case isn't listed, just send us an email and we will do our best to source the required phone case model as a special order. Our website is And our email is


ADAPTIVE CLOTHING GUIDE A few tips and hints to take out the stress out of caring!

When we look good we feel good! Finding adaptive clothing that feels comfortable and fits well isn't a luxury, it is something we all deserve especially our aged loved ones. As our body changes our clothing needs to change. In this guide we shine a light on a few different products to help you and your aged loved ones feel comfortable and fit well. 50 | THE CARER'S CHAMPION

Dr Gina Kingston Personal Stylist Disability | Seniors | Chronic Illness | Inclusive 0479 087 923

Helping people with health issues to look and feel good in less time and with less effort so they can spend more time enjoying life. Style Support Program - $50 Wardrobe Management Packages - $1500 Colour, Wardrobe, Shopping Consultations - $250 Online Shopping Session. Stockist of Flex-a-Tee, Veducci and Emoii shoes.


Petal Back Clothing Petal Back short sleeve nightie Linda, Petal Back clothing. Our lovely light and comfortable summer short sleeve adaptive nightie comes in a range of beautiful patterns making it the perfect choice for your loved one at bedtime. This style features a discrete overlapping back design which wraps from shoulder to shoulder to ensure dignity at all times. Our unique "Petal Back" design allows quick and easy dressing and undressing. The clothing can be put on frontwards without raising the arms, eliminating the need to bend or rotate muscles or joints. We recommend for easy dressing - step 1 open the back, step 2 slide the clothing up the arms, and then lastly step 3 slip over the head. With all of our designs, there is no Velcro®, snaps or buttons. For maximum comfort we use only soft seams to eliminate scratching or itching on delicate soft skin. Longer length the help maintain dignity. Perfect for wearing while using a wheelchair, princess, tub or recliner chair. Fabric: Polyester / Cotton Interlock - Soft, and comfortable with a little stretch Fabric Care: Easy care, no ironing required, washes perfectly time after time in aged care & commercial high temperature laundries.


Colleen's Lingerie and Swimwear Amoena Valletta top Website: Camisole made from an ultra soft modal fabric in an extra long length, with fashionable side slits Supportive in-built shelf bra Adjustable, supportive double straps Has pockets if wearing a breast form The top can be put on either above the head or you can step in to it and pull it up. The built in shelf bra offering medium support eliminates the need to wear a bra . As there is no back fastening, it is very comfortable to wear if sitting for long periods of time. Modal is a natural breathable fabric and is great to wear under other garments both in summer and winter. Also comes in a shorter length. Available in black and white in the longer length and various colours in the shorter length. Sizes 8 - 26 Available in store and online.


Colleen's Lingerie and Swimwear Amoena Nancy Front and Back Fastening Bra Website: Floral lace along the neckline Front and back opening Pocketed to hold a breast form if needed Breathable COOLMAX® wicking fabric minimises moisture Comfortable, adjustable elastic straps The nancy bra has both front and back fastening options. If being dressed by a carer the back fastening can be easier to fit however the front fastening can offer independence allowing the individual to fit and do up the bra at the front. It can be fitted in two pieces if arm movement is limited by undoing both the back and front hooks. It has wide sides offering great support and a smoother look under clothing. Available in nude and dark grey Sizes 10 - 30 B - F cups. Available in store and online. Can be claimed through NDIS.


Medimart Sestra Care Adult Bids Website: Sestra Care Adult Bibs provide a simple and practical solution to protect clothing during mealtimes. Our waterproof fabric bibs promote dignity, inclusion and support. This helps to provide a comfortable dining experience for the less able individuals in a home or care environment. Features Available in 3 Styles (A, B & C) Snap closure at the back of the neck Durable vinyl backing that make them leak proof and offer good quality protection One size fits all Generous amount of coverage (Measurements 64cm x 44cm) Crumbs Catcher, 2 snaps at the front that allows to snap the base of the bib to create a pocket (crumb catcher).


Medimart Sestra Night Shirt Website: Featuring an elegant and convenient open-back design, Sestra Care Solutions’ adaptive cap sleeve night shirt, in sea green, is the perfect solution to hassle-free, dignified and comfortable clothing. Features Open back clothing apparel 24/7 look Poly/Cotton knits, soft on skin, breathable, industrial washing machines and dryer friendly Open back shirt without studs, buttons, Velcro or zips Round neck Printed sections for ID labelling Practical clothing choice for home care, care facilities and rehabilitation centres


LIFESTYLE Living your best life, Your way!

Living your life. Your way! In this section our columnists will share tips, traps and tricks on how to live life your way. Making the most of each and every day. Not all of the products and services will be right for you however it will shine a light on how self-love, self-care and self-compassion isn't selfish! . When we know better we do better! 57 | THE CARER'S CHAMPION

Life Style by DR Gina Kingston Qualified Personal Stylist specialising in people with health issues. Gina’s mum had Multiple Systems Atrophy a Parkinson’s Plus disorder and Gina has scoliosis. They still want to look stylish.

11 Reasons to Consider Adaptive Clothing The first time we met on the phone to see if I was a good fit for Mary (not her real name) she said ‘there is no way you will ever get me in adaptive clothing’. When we met for her wardrobe edit to remove the clothes that were no longer working for told me why she didn’t like adaptive clothing. Mary is in a wheelchair and needs help to get dressed, but she is very stylish and wants to look good. Fortunately, adaptive clothing has moved a long way since the black sacks with big obvious Velcro closures that flattered no one that Mary was associated with adaptive clothing. Once I explained that Mary asked me lots of questions about the pros and cons of adaptive clothing and what she was looking for in her wardrobe. Shortly afterward Mary sent me an email asking me to look at some adaptive clothing for her and the next time we met was to choose what she was going to purchase.


11 Reasons to Consider Adaptive Clothing If you have resisted purchasing adaptive clothing until now, here are 11 reasons to consider it. 1. Less time and effort to get dressed. 2. Greater independence. 3. Dressing is safer for everyone. 4. May be covered by your NDIS Plan. 5. A wide range of options to choose from. 6. Less pain. 7. Less pressure sores and injuries. 8. Looks better because it is designed to accommodate your needs without excess material. 9. More comfortable. 10. More time to enjoy life 11. Increase the availability of suitable clothes for everyone. I used to worry that buying adaptive clothes would reduce the availability of adaptive clothes for those who really need them. However, speaking to adaptive clothing manufacturers the opposite te is true. The more people buy, the more demand, the more they can make and the cheaper the clothes become. While there are many adaptive clothes that can be worn by any one, some people can only wear adaptive clothes. By choosing accessible or adaptive clothing when you are next purchasing clothes, you can do your piece to make the world, and in particular the fashion industry, more inclusive. Still not sure if adaptive clothing is right for you? Book a free chat at Annual Wardrobe Maintenance Package $1500. Suitable for those in Canberra and surrounds who don’t have the time, energy or motivation to manage their wardrobe. Annual Style Support Package $50. Suitable for everyone who wears clothes. Colour, wardrobe and shopping sessions to help you have a wardrobe full of clothes that fit and flatter. Wardrobe sessions are only available in Canberra and surrounds. Colour and shopping are available online as well cost $250 each. Email: Phone: 0479 087 923 Web:


Mindfully Me Dee Brennan – is a Wellbeing and Mindfulness Coach, Mum, Runner and total Coffee snob. Her number one priority in life is to take care of herself first. Having had cancer and been a carer for family members with cancer it’s health that matters most. Her non-negotiable meditation and mindfulness practice helps her handle life with more ease.

Photography - Tracey Lee Photography

Let me hold you In my work as a coach and mindfulness teacher I come across many people who are afraid of change or going through a challenge, life can be a tricky thing. As you read these words please take a loving mindful breath at the end of each paragraph. It’s ok. It’s ok not to know. It’s ok to know, but not know what to do. It’s ok to be scared. It’s normal to feel parallelised by the yearning of your soul and the heaviness of decision. Decision fatigue is real, it’s even ‘a thing’. It’s ok. It’s ok to focus on what’s in front of you. It’s ok to some days just get through the day. It’s not ok to stay in this place for a really really long time, if but you are….maybe it’s time to reach out. Reach out for the pen to put it all down on paper. Burn it if you need. Reach out to a friend to sound it out. Reach out for strategies, for help. You’re doing the best you can. You’re going to be ok.


Let Me Hold You More often than we want, we’re encouraged to ‘take the risk’, on the surface level it seems to be the right thing to do. ‘We are never ready’ the phrase has been repeated so much it’s almost redundant, we know this to be true with everything we have braved up until now. It’s ok to be afraid.

But sometimes we just need to be held for a little longer. We’re not ready and that’s ok. I’m here to hold you till your ready for what’s on the other side.

Can I just tell you something…. (whispers) ‘your worthy of what’s on the other side’. I’m here to hold you now and I’m here to hold you on the other side.

It’s ok, breathe, I got you.

Dee Brennan – is a Wellbeing and Mindfulness Coach, Mum, Runner and total Coffee snob. Her number one priority in life is to take care of herself first. Having had cancer and been a carer for family members with cancer it’s health that matters most. Her non-negotiable meditation and mindfulness practice helps her handle life with more ease.

Dee is running her MEDITATION & MOJO 4 week group coaching program Wednesday 17th March at 8pm. She brings community and wellness together in one place. Feel supported with a weekly wellbeing check-in and enjoy a guided meditations each week.

FB – thinkoutloud Insta – thinkoutloudwellness


Real World Real Health Catie is a nurse case manager who has helps families deal with the crazy healthcare system & aging parents for years. Even with that experience, my dad's cancer journey was a big fat b*tch. But it did help that I understood the healthcare.

Hello Carers! Isn’t it brilliant that we can come together here from all corners of the globe? This month we are talking about adaptive clothing. We know that we want to keep home environments safe and promote independence for our aged loved ones. Well, we want to do the same thing with our care recipient’s clothing - for it to be safe and promote independence! Adaptive clothing helps with this goal. So many aging issues can trigger the need for adaptive clothing. Adaptive clothing may use zippers, velcro, or magnets as they are easier to work with than buttons or snaps. Examples of care recipient issues that can benefit from adaptive clothing include physical changes like frailty, incontinence, and arthritis. People with neurological diagnoses such as dementia may forget how to use different clothing fasteners and need clothing that is very easy to get on and off. Anyone who uses mobility devices like wheelchairs can benefit from adaptive clothing. Pants are more comfortable for sitting in a wheelchair if they are higher in the back and lower in the front. Depending on the needs of the person there are clothes with different openings - say if there is medical equipment that needs to be accessed in the area of the stomach/intestines. Even underwear can be adaptive and fasten on the sides instead of needing to be pulled on and off which is so much easier if someone has difficulty standing. Many large retailers offer adaptive clothing! Target, Zappos, and Tommy Hilfiger are a few. (The internet helped me check to make sure these are readily available in Australia and the US!) Adaptive clothing can save time, energy, and frustration for our aged care recipients and for us! xoxo, Catie Join me online Web: Email: Instagram: @realworldrealhealth Facebook: realwrealh Caregiver Etsy Shop HealthProsForYou 62 | THE CARER'S CHAMPION

SELF COMPASSION Alyson Williams is a Transformation; Mindset Coach and Self-love Mentor, she empowers women to love themselves and live a life they love. Alyson is a trained Transformational coach, Relationship coach, Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Coach, Extended DISC Behaviour Analysis practitioner and Hypnotherapist and Bling Angel.

Fool Me Once - Fool Me Twice You will likely be familiar with the saying, ‘Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.’ My take on that is that when somebody dupes you or takes advantage of you the first time it’s likely because you were unsuspecting or were so gobsmacked that you let it pass. However, the second time is all about being responsible for your own actions. If they take advantage of you the second time, I believe that's on you, because knowing what had happened in the past could have alerted you to the prospect of the same thing recurring. An incident happened the other day, which actually brought this phrase to mind. I, along with a group of friends, visited another friend at her new house in the country. We had a lovely afternoon. She had just moved in and there were still some items, like her coffee maker, that had only just been unpacked. The packaging was collected in a pile in the middle of the family room floor, which struck me as odd! Other than that reaction, I didn’t think about it any further assuming it was all just being collected for disposal later on. A couple of hours later, I said goodbye and was on my way out when, blow me down, she said: “No, you can't go yet.” Then she marched out ahead of me and proceeded to load all this garbage into my car, without even asking…!!! I was stunned because it all happened so fast. I was even more annoyed because she put a huge box in the back of my car, which pushed the parcel shelf out of alignment. I decided to ‘let it go’ for a number of reasons: 1) because having lived on acreage previously I am aware that garbage collection is problematical, 2) living in a townhouse complex gives me access to multiple garbage rooms, 3) the behaviour was very fitting for her personality, and 4) I believe it was not unusual behaviour for her culture, which I won't name.


I could have taken a stand and refused to take the garbage or explained my annoyance at her behaviour. However, for all the reasons above, I decided it was not worth losing the relationship of someone I rarely see, so I chose to ‘let it go. While as a self-love coach I’m a strong advocate for speaking your truth and maintaining your boundaries, I also believe there are times when it’s okay to ‘let it go’ rather than make a point. Next time, however, I will not be so accommodating because healthy relationships are based on mutual respect and honesty. Alyson Williams If you would like to embark on a journey to increase your success in life, or your self-love or self-care practices contact Alyson, details below. Alternatively, book in a strategy call through her calendly link. To book a strategy session if you would like to explore how to have difficult conversations, manage relationships and/or increase your self-love or self-care practices contact Alyson, details below.

Book a Bling Angel card session: $55 for 20 minutes $150 for 1 hour $200 for 1 ½ hours $250 for 2 hours

Email: Website: Facebook: LinkedIn: Phone: +61 432 580 886 My Linktree: Booking link:


HARMONY IN WORDS A Book Review By Yvonne Heitz from Word Harmony Proofreading and Editing Enterprise

Still Alice by Lisa Genova Welcome to the March 2022 issue of Harmony in Words Book Review. Now that we have settled into 2022 it is a good time to discuss a serious issue. I was given Still Alice for Christmas and although it is a serious matter, this book written by Lisa Genova tells the story of Dr Alice Howland and her early on-set Alzheimer Disease in a captivating way. It is a moving story of how this awful disease slowly crept into Alice’s life. Alice is a well-respected professor and leads a very busy life, with her job and her family. Alzheimer snuck into her life in small-scale ways at the beginning ~ simple things like forgetting to take her phone with her, losing her way home when going for her normal run and many other little things that seemed irrelevant at the initial stage. After her diagnosis it took her a few months for Alice to share it with her husband and children, it was almost as if she was in denial. As the story unfolds and time goes on Alice can no longer work in her chosen field, she battles with a lot of common everyday activities and the strain of this disease shows within her family group. There is the unpleasant discovery that Alzheimer’s Disease can be hereditary. This was something that I was not aware of until reading this book. Family history is not necessary for an individual to develop Alzheimer's. However, research shows that those who have a parent or sibling with Alzheimer's are more likely to develop the disease than those who do not have a first-degree relative with Alzheimer's.


Alice reaches out to support groups and creates one of her own and gains solace from interaction within this group. Throughout the book the relationship with her husband and children changes, initially they are supportive but as time goes by, she understands that things are changing, and she somehow accepts that someone is always with her to make sure she is OK. Her world is rocked and shocked when her husband wants to accept a job in New York, she does not want to leave her family home and matters become tense between them. The ending of the book was abrupt and not clear, well at least not to me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the fact that Alice could feel what Lydia was portraying in her play, it just simply left me a little bit up in the air. Notwithstanding my view, I am sure you will enjoy this book as I certainly did. It is a great book for a book club as Genova has cleverly included “Readers’ Group Guide”. There is also “A Conversation with Lisa Genova” which gives an honest insight to why Genova wrote this book. A bonus is the inclusion of “Inside the O’Briens”. Reading the first two chapters of this book has persuaded me to add Genova to my personal list of authors to read. There's currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease. But there is medicine available that can temporarily reduce the symptoms. Support is also available to help someone with the condition, and their family, cope with everyday life.

Until next time!

Good reading



World According To Rita I've been running the ACE support network since 2014. I've been a support carer, long-distance carer, main carer and now I am helping my partner to care for his 95 year old mother. Caring isn't always pretty or nice, however, there are always pretty and nice moments.

Thankful There is always something to be thankful for. Even though it may not seem like it. It took me a long time to understand that there is always something to be thankful for. There was a time in life that if I saw a light at the end of a tunnel it was a train coming to get me. My life had been full of challenges and stress and to be honest I was crumbling under the weight of my caring responsibilities, family issues, working and for a while there I thought that it was just too hard to keep doing it all. Then one day a friend pointed out some of the good and great things in my life and when I started to see one or two I started to see more things to be thankful for. No it wasn’t as simple as that – I had to do some work. I made a point of writing down three things each day I was thankful. I started small and sometimes I had to really look for something however after a few days I found more things to be thankful for. It definitely was the law of attraction. I remember the first thing I wrote was “I am thankful for the sun shining” – it was very simple however it was important at the time as I was trying to get some washing dried and I was taking Dad out for a walk, which was so much better in the sunshine. Read what you have previously written, it is good to see how different you are seeing things. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, it doesn’t have to matter to anyone else, it doesn’t even have to make sense. Just as long as it is something you are thankful for. At this very moment I am thankful for many things in my life: I am thankful that ACE is helping so many people on their caring journey. I am thankful for the opportunity to be living my dreams. I am thankful for the wonderful people in my life that love and support me. I am thankful for the great little place I live. I am thankful for the opportunity to walk every day. As with any other emotion it is a personal journey although sometimes we need a little help to see how many good things there are in our lives. Can you think of anything now this very minute that you are thankful for? 67| THE CARER'S CHAMPION


The Directory Products and Services Top picks for you



Inspirational Cards



Joy for All

Uccello Designs



Prints by Kevin PHONE COVER

The Columnists Alyson Williams

Catie Chung







The Directory Services Top picks for you Carers' Circle - caring for ageing parents

Phillips Wealth Partners



North Shore Retirement and Aged Care Consultants Navigating the Complexities of Aged Care

Mable Connect with Care and Support Workers in your Community

The Room Xchange

Colleen's Lingerie and Swimwear

Find your people. Feel at Home

Sensitive Breast Care Service

Rosewood Aged Care Home

Cycling Without Age

Providing all Levels of Care

Providing all Levels of Care

To advertise your product or service in the Service Directory contact Rita at


IN THE NEXT ISSUE: Dr Julie from WiseCare Aurous community network CareAbout Self-Managed Home Care Packages Plus so much more

You Matter to me! See you next time!

Photography by @traceymurrayphotography


Rita x

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