Planning Safety for Seniors

Back Story

Over the past few days, I have given great thought to the issue of safety for solo senior women and their safety.  I’ve talked with people and done research online.  As a result, I have some advice for women who live alone, and perhaps do not have any family member or friend to keep in touch with them.

Four Things to Do!

  1. Neighbourly – Next of Kin.  Make contact with your neighbours.  If you feel that they are trustworthy, you can discuss with them about checking up on you.  Is there a way, you can let them know that you are alive?  Perhaps it is something you do to let them know each day that you are alive and well. It might be to phone them, or knock on their door.  Work out something that is not going to be a challenge for both of you.  Give them details of your next of kin too.
  2. Keys.  Who do you know locally that you can trust with a spare key to your home?  You can get a low-cost key safe, and leave it outside your home.  Bunnings have some great key safe’s for less than $25!  Give your password to someone you trust, and if necessary put their contact details on paper and leave with your key safe, but put it in a plastic bag.
  3. Red Cross – The Red Cross has a program where they make a phone call every morning to people who are alone and are registered with them.  Please check here for details about this service.
  4. Rotary and Lions Medical Information Booklet – As part of their community service these organisations distribute these booklets which are in a plastic pocket with magnets.  With details of your next of kin, health issues and medication, it is attached to the refrigerator, so that in an emergency the information is easily accessed.  Not alll Lions or Rotary Clubs are involved in the program.  Contact your local Lions or Rotary, or check here.

Emergency Alarms

There are a variety of  Emergency Alarms on the market – though most are expensive, especially those with 24-hour services.  There is quite a range available.  Check here for details of LiveLife Alarm.  It is quite expensive to purchase, but no ongoing costs.

I have had a watch with an emergency alarm, which, if I press a button, will advise my two offspring, and it will give the GPS coordinates.  I instructed them to phone me first, but if they could not contact me, give the GPS details to 000.

If you know someone who lives alone, why not discuss with them, how to keep them safe!  Can you help them?

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Forgotten Senior Solo Women

The Challenges of Ageing and Living Alone

Many of my friends know of my concerns for senior solo women who face housing challenges. There is a massive shortage of affordable houses in Australia.  But I am angry and concerned about othere issues associated with the senior solo women.  This cohort is often described as women over 50 years of age. There are many in the 70’s, 80’s and their 90’s living alone in their homes or government and community housing.

The older ladies are often more challenged.  For some, they have few or no family as often women outlive their loved ones.  Some are not well educated and feel excluded from the modern world – even a mobile phone can be challenging, and many don’t communicate via their computer or tablet.

Two Women Die

Two incidents have occurred in the past few months that really make me angry.  In one government housing complex within the Brisbane city area, two women have died in circumstances that should not have happened.

One was a lady who was a friendly loner who often walked her small dog around the complex, but it took some time before someone realised that she had not been seen for some time.  Eventually, the police and other emergency services appeared, and the bodies of the woman and her dog were found. My understanding is that her body had laid for some three months in her unit before she was found!

This complex does not have an onsite manager, and there is no one to check up on the residents.  When I think about this I get very distressed.  No one bothered about this senior solo woman for three months?  Her rent was probably an automatic deduction from her fortnightly pension, and there was nothing that set off any concern for her.

 

How do we Make a Change?

In the last couple of weeks, another incident occurred.  The lady concerned lived alone in her unit, and she had been living there for over 17 years.  One of the neighbours queried why they hadn’t seen her for a few days.  Emergency services were called and after they broke in, they found her in a critical condition.  She was taken by ambulance to a hospital, but before they reached the hospital she died. Her friends phoned all the local hospitals, but as she had not been admitted, no one knew about her. Eventually, they discovered what happened.

There are so many concerns for me.  Surely in this day and age, with all our modern technology there are ways to regularly check up on people who are ageing and live alone.  Did the women know about them?  Did they not understand how to use them?  Why aren’t the tenants supported in a scheme to check regularly on their neighbours? It seems a simple enough concept, but these public houses just provide housing and no support services appear to exist for them.

Difficulties Accessing the Sick or Dead

As there is no onsite manager, the emergency services had trouble getting into the second lady’s house – there is no system other than making a call to the department, but after hours, further complications occur.  The police and ambo’s can’t break in, they have to call the Fire Brigade.

Luckily one of the neighbours did have some minimal knowledge about her health issues, and no-one knew her next of kin. In all quite a traumatic experience for all concerned, which doesn’t need to be.  It appears the housing department has no system to support these residents, so it is likely to happen again and again.

One of the not-for-profit housing organisations has a program called “The Forgotten Women“.  Currently, they are considering providing housing.  Unless the housing complexes have either a community that supports all residents or a person in charge, these terrible occurrences will continue.

Co-housing

It is just over one year since I visited the New Ground co-housing project for senior solo women, and where I learned how it all can be done in an affordable manner.

We (through SoSeW) are working to make changes. Our focus is to provide safe, secure, affordable forever housing for senior solo women.  If anyone is interested in working with our small team do make contact with me.

Do you have any ideas to help this cohort?  Please contact me.

 

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Saving Documents

Who is interested in Saving Documents?

I have always been interested in history – and yes family history too.  Is it because I have been fascinated by my own family history? All my life I have been saving documents that I feel may be of interest to my descendants?  Fortunately, I have had a family member, who was a historian.  She has written several books about our ancestors.  I have copies of her work.

However, I feel that of every family there is probably only one person interested in their history.  In my own family, my parents kept quite a few documents, but my sister and her side of the family have shown no interest.  My own daughter and son, have shown little interest, so I am hoping the next generation will.  In any case, I have provided them with much information and ephemera.

My Own Collection

Despite all my moves around Australia, from my home town in Adelaide to Mt Gambier, Warrnambool, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, I have kept plenty of documents.  I have many photos of me as a toddler, though there are few of my sister.  Was it the honour of being the first child of the family, that resulted in more photos of me?  I understand that this does happen.

I certainly have most if not all of the important documents of my life, including school photos, report cards, certificates, letters and more.  Impressive actually.

Who should be “in charge” of Family History?

As probably the only family member interested in history, much of the material has been given to me.  Most I was familiar with, but over the last few days, I’ve discovered more that I didn’t know, or I had forgotten.  It is a good idea to “select” someone to be the one to hold all the documents safely.  Perhaps discuss some “rules” or suggestions.  Who will take it on if the original “carer” is unable to?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One certificate of mine of which I am proud, is an “Award of Merit” which was probably sent around 1954.  I wrote an article which was published in the paper, which was a publication for The Argonauts Club, which was based on Greek Mythology.  The Argonauts was a children’s club of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, way back in the 50’s.

I have an extraordinary amount of ephemera going back many years.  I’m just hoping that the collection is of value to some folk.

What are the most interesting or important documents that you have in your collection.

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Happy International Women’s Day

Celebrations

Here it is, IWD, and on this day I will not be celebrating.  My celebration will be tomorrow – though today I will be celebrating the life of a wonderful lady who was an inspiration to other women, working in the community and inspiring others.

Tomorrow’s event is being arranged by the Queensland Police, at nearby Redcliffe.  Perhaps I will celebration alone – maybe a glass of wine or two!!

Affordable Housing

One of the projects I continue to work on is a co-housing project for senior solo women.  I’ve been on this journey for many years.  I am so distressed at times about the number of solo women in housing stress.

After my marriage disintegrated, I went house sitting for two years, before doing some travelling around Australia.  Then I settled in Beachmere in a private rental.  After several years, with the rent increasing while my income did not, I went back housesitting until health issues put an end to that.

The stress of sourcing accommodation nearly did me in.  Eventually, I settled in a unit at Deception Bay, but I am not happy here, and know that I will be on the move again.  Perhaps towards the end of the year.

Finding Affordable Housing

The financial experts suggest that only 30% of someone’s income should be spent on housing. For many of us, it is in the vicinity of 70%, which is unaffordable, but there is little choice.  There are not enough “affordable” houses on the market, governments are not building enough houses to cater for the large number of people in housing stress and women in particular at greater risk of homelessness.

SoSeW

One of the projects I am working on is a Co-Housing project for Senior Solo Women.  There is a website with some information – needs updating, but at the moment I am the one that does everything and am behind with some of my tasks.  You will also find SoSeW on Facebook.

Co-Housing for Women

Just over 12 months ago I was in the UK – exploring a cohousing project for women.  New Ground was officially opened in August 2018.  I was lucky to stay at the property for a couple of nights in February 2018 and am convinced that the project would work well in Australia.

It took the UK ladies 16 years to achieve their goal.  I hope it doesn’t take so long for us.

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Family History

Saving Family Documents

I know everyone’s family has an interesting history, and over the years I have had a habit of saving family documents.  I’m currently trying to sort them out – and make them easier for my family to read and understand.  On one side of my family I can go way.  One of my ancestors was Lieutenant Colonel Jonas Watson.  (My maiden name was Watson.)

That was my father’s side of the family.  Another side of my father’s history were the Abbots, who came on the Buffalo to South Australia in 1836.  Also on the same ship, on the same journey were the Broadbents, who were ancestors of my husband.  I don’t know that I will ever get around to doing further research on these, but I have interesting information about them, and the Ragless family (my mother’s side) and the Goss family (my husband’s).

What Documents?

When I look through what I personally have collected, about me, it is quite considerable, including newspaper articles, letters, certificates and photos.  Mum’s include documents re family members deaths, wills, and more.

The above photo was taken in 1950, when I was probably in Grade 2 at Brighton Primary School, South Australia.   (I posted this on FB and most of my friends recognised me – the tallest were always in the back row, and I’m the only blonde girl in the back row.)

At the Commonwealth Games 1962.

This photo of my friend Judy Baker and I at the Commonwealth Games in Perth in 1962. It was in the Perth Newspaper, The West Australian.

My Mother’s Documents

Today I have been going through my mother’s documents, and have let a few tears flow.  Some extraordinary documents that go way back.  I have all her references from when she left her jobs way back in the early 1940’s, and newsletters she wrote to parents when she was the Guide Commissioner in the 1960’s.

But one I never knew she had was a personal letter from Lady Baden Powell, in the late 1950’s I think.

My Mother's Certificate

A certificate with the details of my mother’s Baptism (1917) and First Communion. (1930)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my greatest fears is that my offspring and theirs will not have any interest in family history and when I pass on, may decide to destroy it all as “rubbish”.

My sister and her side of the family are not interested in family history. What should I do?

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Safety of Little Children

Missing Boy

It was only a few days ago, that I “found” a missing boy.  My understanding is that it was a couple of hours before his parents reported to the police that their toddler could not be located.  That was on Saturday morning.

This morning (February 26th) I woke up to learn that two little boys, aged 3 an 5 were missing in Townsville – the site of the recent horrific floods.  A short time later, it was reported that their bodies were found.  They had apparently gone for a swim in the flooded Ross River, only a short distance from their home.  Someone reported seeing them swimming in the river late yesterday.  So sad that their adventure ended in their deaths.

Parenting

I am not going to make any negative comments re the parents.  Now is not the time.  I know from experience that little ones can disappear in an instant.  It is so easy for them to go missing. Parents can be quite genuinely distracted by things they are doing.  Boys, in particular, are adventurous – though I haven’t found any information that indicates that they are more likely to disappear from home than girls.

Precautions

Securing the home is important to consider.  Is it easy for your little one to escape from the house?  Some door handles are quite low and easy to open by little ones.  Folk have to consider how to make it more difficult for their toddlers to get out of the home without parents noticing.

My Experiences

I remember an event many years ago.  We were moving from Melbourne to Sydney, and the company sources accommodation overlooking Sydney Harbour at McMahon’s Point.  Wonderful.  One day I went to the toilet, and minutes later came out to discover the two toddlers had disappeared.  The door handles were low and easy for them to open and abscond.

It was an awful time.  I went outside into the hallway, and they were nowhere.  There were two lifts (elevators), and it was a huge building, probably 15 stories high.  The elevator came after I pressed the button, and I went down to the ground floor and luckily found them.  But what if they had got out on another floor?  How easy would it have been to find them?  And being right on the harbour, would they have gone to explore the water?

Other Dangers

At that same building, where we lived for several weeks until we found a house to move to, there was another danger.  There were no screens or security on the windows.  One day I found that my two children had opened the window and were “hanging out” waving to people below.  They could have fallen out and I think we were on the fifth floor.  They would have been killed.

It is so hard to manage small children and the risks to them are greater now than they were when I had my small children.  A pedophile could easily have taken the little boy on Saturday.  He was running towards a very busy intersection.  There are many dangers for little ones on their own, out in public. Our world has many dangers.

child standing on concrete bay together with sitting woman

Photo by Raychan of Unsplash.com

 

 

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Lost Little Boy

The Unexpected

It was totally unexpected. Here I was, minding my own business, driving to the Car Wash at Rothwell, as my car was dirty and dusty, when it happened.  I saw a little boy – perhaps between 2 and 3 years of age, running, barefoot along the footpath towards a busy intersection.  Concerned for him, I stopped because I thought he was in danger.

I drove my car to a spot near where the boy was running, and the Car Wash guy and I rushed to “save” him.  He was a cute little blonde fellow, with a t-shirt and shorts over his nappy.  He didn’t know his name, nor where he lived.

Keeping a Little One Happy

While I endeavoured to amuse the boy, the Car Wash guy phoned 000 to notify the police.  It was some 20 minutes before the police car arrived.  I kept the little fellow busy with silly games.  “Where’s your nose?” and he’d point to it.  “Where’s your tummy?” etc.  He wasn’t scared or worried.  We played games for quite a while.  When asked his name, he whispered.  We never understood.

The Car Wash man gave him a lolly snake, which he devoured quickly, and he’d run and jump, and he’d run and hug me.  It was a little fun for me too – though he was a little heavy.  At one stage he ran into me and hit his head on my knee.  He lay on the ground holding his head, but after a few minutes, got up and hugged me again.  All was well.

Another lady had stopped her car when she had seen him on the street, and another vehicle drove up.  The man had seen the boy running, and went back to get his wife to help, as he felt he might be considered to be a pedophile if he tried to catch the boy alone.  We were all worried about him.  Where was his mother?  Father?  Who was supposed to be caring for him.  No one had reported him missing.

Here Come the Police

When the Police arrived, he was unphased and played with the policewoman, while the other officer made phone calls.  In the end, they drove off towards the area where we thought he had come from.

Around 1 pm, this appeared on the Police Facebook page.

“A young boy found this morning has been identified and returned to his parents this morning after been located in Rothwell.

Police would like to thank the media and members of the public for their assistance.”

I don’t know any more than that, but I am happy that he has been returned to his parents.

I know that little ones can be “adventurous” or “naughty” and abscond.  Hard for parents if this is the case.  We don’t know his story.  Another adventure for me.

boy holding hands with person on road

Photo by Julie Johnson, Unsplash.com

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RIP Prince Leonard

Prince Leonard of Hutt River

Today I learned of the death of Prince Leonard of the Principality of Hutt River Province in Western Australia.  I visited on my trip around Australia, in 2013.

The story is quite remarkable, of how he created the principality, after getting into an “argument” over a tax issue back in 1970.  You can read the story on Wikipedia here.

I met him, and he, in fact, stamped my passport and showed me around.  Where he created the principality is some nearly 600 kms north of Perth in Western Australia, in really quite a desolate area.

There were photos, but I can’t find them, though there is a great image of him here. 

I’d like to see a feature movie made of the story!!!

In the meantime, the video below, courtesy of Vimeo will have to do.

Principality of Hutt River from Chris Lewis | ABC Midwest on Vimeo.

It is a wonderful Australian story.  I am so pleased that I was able to visit the Principality!

Despite his death, I recommend that everyone who has the chance visits the Principality and learns the amazing story.

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And Next There Was a Visitor

Unexpected Visitor

How can you plan for that?  But it does happen to me!  I do tend to get surprises as my friends from China plan to stay with me!  Without warning!

I decided last week to change the furniture around in the new apartment – I had been to Ikea to get some small inexpensive tables, and eyed off some other things that would fit in well.  However, I need to get rid of a lounge seat, a desk and a filing cabinet.  I can move none of them on my own!  And then in the midst of some chaos, I get an unexpected phone call.

“Hello Diana.  I am in Brisbane and I am coming to stay with you.”  A doctor friend from China, had travelled to Australia for the first time, and he was staying with his friends – all former English teacher at a university there.

So, here was my unexpected visitor – when I am still in chaos trying to sort things out from the move last month.

Typical Chinese Culture

I should be familiar with the way things are when one has a visitor from mainland China.  Your life is chaotic.  It’s like the way that they announce they are coming to stay with you.   There’s no question of whether it is suitable, convenient or whatever.  They arrive and everything is about them.

They don’t seem to eat the way we do – I mean that breakfast, lunch and dinner is not as regimented as we are used to.  Not hungry at breakfast so they don’t want any, but after I have had mine, tidied up and ready to go out, they want something, and it is not usually as simple as one would like.

My timetable/commitments?  Well, I just have to get used to doing my chores/appointments when it happens.  “We have to leave at 9 am” – and at 5 to 9, they want coffee, or want to do something on the internet.  Grrr.

The Chinese seem not to understand how to work with and respect their “hostess’s” timetable.   The fact that I have a problem with one of my legs and walking is limited, though he is catching on.  It is hard to know how to please them.  Would you like to go on a boat tour” – the initial answer is an enthusiastic ‘yes’ but after some time and thought, and a host of questions, there’s a lack of enthusiasm.  And they don’t understand our vast distances from place to place.

So much fun!!

Missing in Action

I love it that my Chinese guests are curious about our culture. I don’t love it that a shopping venture that should take 20 minutes, takes an hour or so, as they check every product in the supermarket or shop, for details including if it was made in China.  And they disappear!! One minute they are beside you, and the next?  Well, good luck finding them.

It makes one feel like an idiot, as you search the aisle in the shopping centre and call out their name.  Sometimes they are “miles” from where you last saw them.  Because he can sit on his “haunches” I often don’t see him.

Last night I had a meeting to attend, and I took him, and explained that I would only be an hour.  When I came out into the dark at 7.30 pm, he’s nowhere to be seen.  He has managed to find a “day hospital” and explore it, a gym where he has collected some brochures and books and some other place.
I just stood in the dark on the side of the road.  Waiting.  Waiting.  He told me enthusiastically about his discoveries.

Helping

Most of my guests from the Middle Kingdom don’t do anything for me.  They don’t “dry dishes”, take plates from the table, clean up, take items back to the kitchen etc, but the good doctor does.  He’s fanatical.  He wants to clean everything.  Floors?  No problem.  He wields the vacuum cleaner with enthusiasm.  This man wipes anything to keep it clean.  He puts rubbish in the bin (though I have to teach him about the way we recycle rubbish etc.

Lanterns – Photo by Yu Kato

Today he leaves me – so I can get back to doing all the things I missed doing in the days he was with me.

So much writing.  Housework.

But, I hope I don’t sound like I am complaining.  I understand, or am still trying to, their culture, but it is full on.

Tomorrow I can relax more.  I will miss my unexpected visitor!

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Married at First Sight Rant

MAFS – Bad Language a Disgrace

I have watched parts of the “hit program” Married at First Sight 2019.  Some of the candidates use terrible language.   I cannot believe that Channel 9 thinks it is ok for such foul language to be spoken on the program. The bad language is a disgrace.  Sure, it is not a children’s program and there are warnings. But surely it would be easier to tell the participants that bad language is not acceptable.

Now, I know I can probably be described as a goodie-two-shoes, as the language used is not part of my vocabulary.  Once upon a time, when I was younger, such language was totally unacceptable anywhere. It was unacceptable on radio or television. These days, perhaps because of the influence of the media, it is common language.   I hear young children using these foul words as if they are acceptable everyday vocabulary.

The Dreaded F-word.

The “F-word” was used, and still is, I understand,  by males when they rape someone. While the meaning of the word may have changed in more recent times for some, there are many people, especially women who have been wronged, still are scared and horrified and for some have flashbacks when the word is used.

 

Embarrassment

Photo by San Salvador, El Salvador

Oh, why can’t we go back to nicer times when such language was seldom heard?

Can we Blame the Media?

We have so much violence in our world these days, so much anger, so much crime, at a time when we could or should be operating at a better level.  We have a so much better life that it was for folk earlier in our history, but we have allowed our standards to be so low that people do not feel safe, even in their own homes.

I often wonder if television is to blame for much of the negative behaviour.  The violence that is portrayed on some programs could quite well inspire people with a low level of intelligence to believe that the violence, crime, foul language and anti-social behaviour is acceptable.  It is not.

Channel 9 is not helping, broadcasting programs with such hostility and bad language, especially when they are supposedly “encouraging” the participants to love and honour each other.  It doesn’t work!!!

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