Issues affecting older people have been in the news headlines a lot lately. Have you seen the stories about older people in aged care? The centenarians who are ageing well and learning new skills? Or the initiatives being taken to support people living with dementia and their families?
As a long-time volunteer for NARI, I know the importance of research in helping learn more about how we, as a society, address many of these challenges. I know from my own health scare with cancer about the value of research. After eight years of battling different illnesses, I am now living proof that research is so important.
I first became involved with NARI over 20 years ago. I first heard about NARI on a radio show about dementia.
My husband had been unwell for about 13 years, and it sounded like what he had. I went and met with Dr Dina LoGiudice at the memory clinic at the hospital. I then joined my husband up to a research program with Dr Bruce Barber – a music therapy program. I was taking my husband to the program, which he enjoyed, and then joined in myself.
Since being ‘introduced’ to NARI, I have been involved in many focus groups, including a recent one looking at elder abuse. I also took part in the INDIGO study which looked at whether a home-based physical activity program supported by goals and a mentor improved levels of fitness.
Today, at 86-years-old, I am about to start volunteering in a new project. The BEFRIENDAS project is one of the first to be run in Australia. I am going to be trained before I start visiting a resident in an aged care home for four months. Along the way, I will be supported by NARI’s Professor Colleen Doyle and her team.
BEFRIENDAS is a simple idea that has great potential impact. Every volunteer will be matched with a resident to have a conversation with a person about everyday topics and events in a friendly way without discussing health problems or emotions.
Since signing up, I have learned that half of people living in residential aged care may have significant depression symptoms, and for many different reasons. NARI hopes the research will shed light on whether extra social support can influence symptoms of depression, anxiety or loneliness in people living in residential aged care.
For me, NARI has made a big difference in my life, it has helped me to age in a good way and kept me interested and alert. It’s so easy to just slouch around and do nothing, NARI has kept me busy. I have made friends with other volunteers and enjoy working with the researchers and learning about their work and the trends. It is good to know what is happening.
What I especially like is the respect every person involved with NARI shows for us volunteers. Every time I participate, I know I can speak freely about the issue, listened to, and that my views are valued. In an ageist society, this is a rare experience.
It is an honour to be a volunteer with NARI. It is an honour to be a part of critical work that will shape policy and services which directly benefits older people now and in the future.
As you can see, NARI cannot do its research without volunteers. Nor can it do it without financial support.
This tax time, if you are able to make a charitable donation, I urge you please to consider NARI. A donation of $2 and over is tax-deductible. Your gift will help provide the services that we all may need one day.
Please donate now online at https://www.nari.net.au/foundation/donate
On behalf of everyone at NARI, thank you for your kind support. Together we can make a real difference in the lives of all older Australians.
PS: Remember to make your tax-deductible donation before 30 June 2019.