St John Baptist Website Post

Blessed John Baptist Scalabrini to be canonised by Pope Francis.

It is with great joy that we share with you the news that our founder, Blessed John Baptist Scalabrini has been be venerated as a Saint by Pope Francis on the 9th of October 2022.

Our Founder has the title, Father of Migrants, as more than one century ago he had a vision to take care of migrants. He was the first person in history to formally present a petition to the Pope to have an office in the Vatican dedicated to the care of migrant communities.

We know how much migrants, refugees, seafarers and all people involved in human mobility are dear to the Holy Father’s heart. Many times he has pointed out to the Church and society the duty to welcome them, protect them, promote their living conditions and value their contribution to common coexistence. In proclaiming John Baptist Scalabrini a saint, Pope Francis wants to indicate to the Church the model of a bishop who not only gave himself completely to the good of his people, but also extended his heart to the sisters and brothers whom life had taken far from home.

As we thank the Holy Father for this gift and rejoice that our Founder is recognised as a model to be imitated, we feel even more empowered to keep alive the charism he passed on to us and to dedicate ourselves to the service of the vulnerable, where people are not discarded, but are appreciated and valued in their uniqueness and diversity.

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How to manage family arguments about end-of-life care

Preparing for the end of a loved one’s life is never easy. There’s often a flood of emotions that accompany it, from grief and loss to the stress and frustration of dealing with all the logistics. 

While the ideal scenario is that everyone in your family would band together in this challenging time, this unfortunately isn’t always the reality. It’s not uncommon for family conflict to break out in this emotionally charged scenario.

From deciding on the best medical care to preparing the will and arranging the funeral, there’s a lot of moving parts involved in end-of-life planning. It’s likely that there will be a few different opinions on the best way to give your loved one a dignified passing.

With a few simple changes to your approach, you can avoid clashes and get everyone on the same page. 

Whether you’re preparing for the imminent passing of a loved one or it’s already happened, here’s how to handle family arguments about end-of-life care.

Identify key decision makers

There’s a good chance that everyone and their dog will have an opinion on the best end-of-life arrangements for your loved one. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone’s viewpoint is relevant. If you take every opinion on board, it will likely end up as a ‘too many chefs in the kitchen’ situation, where nothing gets resolved.

This is why it’s important to identify the key stakeholders who should be involved in making these arrangements. For example, immediate family, like children or spouses are traditionally involved in the proceedings, while grandchildren, cousins, and partners of children don’t necessarily need to be. 

If your loved one is still alive and able-minded, you may also choose to consult them about who they would like to be involved in their end-of-life planning.

At this stage, you may also choose to appoint roles with the consent of your loved ones. For example, some of the legal appointments around end-of-life planning include:

Medical treatment decision-maker – can manage your medical needs

Enduring power of attorney – can make financial decisions

Enduring guardianship – can make personal and lifestyle decisions

Doing this can ensure everyone has a clear understanding of exactly what their role is and what they have authority on, so nobody steps on anyone else’s toes.

Listen to everyone’s viewpoints

Once you’ve decided whose opinions will be taken into consideration, it’s time to listen to them. It’s really important that everyone has the opportunity to have their preferences heard and respected. Now, if you have a family dynamic where everyone talks over the top of each other, this can be challenging! 

You may want to consider implementing a talking stick (a Native American tradition) where only the person holding the stick can talk, and everyone else must listen until it’s their turn to speak. This helps slow down the conversation and gives the quieter members of the family the chance to be heard, too. 

Face tough conversations head-on

It can be tempting to avoid communicating about end-of-life planning in-person — particularly if you have a complex family dynamic or are separated by distance. 

However, communicating about these important issues via email or text can be rife with issues. You lose many of the visual and verbal cues that you get with face-to-face communication, such as body language, tone, or facial expressions. This can lead to family members misinterpreting the intention of others, which can cause conflict.

Where possible, it’s best to have these conversations in-person or at least via video call. 

Stick to the facts

Humans are emotional creatures at heart, and this is especially true of high-tension situations like the passing of a loved one. Everyone deals with grief in different ways, whether it’s feeling angry or emotionally shutting down. However, in order to reach the best outcome for everyone involved, it’s important to put emotions aside and look at the facts. The same applies to not bringing past family conflicts and dramas into the equation.

What were your loved one’s wishes for the end of their life? What makes the most sense, financially and logistically? How can you meet in the middle to reach an outcome that benefits everyone? These are all important questions to ask in order to make a rational decision about end-of-life care.

Document diligently

It’s important to take notes about all of the conversations you have with family members about end-of-life care. This not only makes it easier to keep track of everyone’s preferences, but can help you avoid any miscommunications later down the track. These documents can also prove useful in the unfortunate situation you ever end up in family court.

You may want to consider designating a family member to take notes of the discussions (preferably someone who isn’t directly involved in the negotiations.) You may also be able to use a recording app on your phone which will automatically transcribe the conversation for your records. Just be sure to let everyone know you will be recording.  

Consider mediation

If getting everyone on the same page is proving to be an impossible feat, there’s no shame in seeking meditation. EOL conflict mediators specialise in managing the interests of various family members and delving deeper into the underlying values, beliefs and fears behind these. These professionals can often be found employed by hospitals or hired privately. Some GPs can assist with this, too. Using a mediator to help facilitate these discussions can help your family more quickly reach a peaceful resolution.

At Scalabrini, while we can’t make your end-of-life decisions for you, we can take the time to explore your advanced care wishes with you, so you can guide us in what’s best for you.

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5 considerations when choosing an aged care facility

Choosing a new home is always a big decision. After all, it becomes your new community and where you spend the majority of your time! So, it’s important to choose wisely. This is especially true when it comes to finding a new home for an ageing family member.

If your loved one is no longer able to look after themselves and family care is not a viable option, an aged care home is a wise option. But, not all aged care facilities are created equal! You want to make sure your family member is moving somewhere where they will feel fulfilled, comfortable and at home.

So, how do you make sure you’re picking the right aged care facility for your elderly relative? Here are 5 important considerations to help you find the perfect new home.

1. What are the facilities like? 

Pay attention to your first impression when you visit the residential home. Do the gardens look well manicured and looked after? Do the rooms look clean, tidy and comfortable? These can give you important insights into the quality of care provided there. 

2. What activities are on offer?

Having a full and vibrant life is vital for senior’s wellbeing and happiness. So, it’s important to make sure that the residential home has plenty of activities to keep them mentally, physically and socially engaged.

Keeping busy is also key for easing the transition from their old home to their new one.

Yoga, dancing, Tai Chi and art are just some of the activities we offer at Scalabrini. We also arrange external outings when it is safe to do so.

3. What are the staff like?

The people at your loved one’s aged care home will become their new (extended) family. This includes not only the other residents, but the staff! These are the people your relative will turn to for daily support and assistance. So, it’s important that they feel comfortable, respected and trusting.

The aged care profession tends to attract caring and kind-hearted people in general. But, how an organisation is managed can affect your loved one’s experience, and this stems down from the top. At Scalabrini, we are proud to say that staff are enabled to take their time in getting to know each resident’s individual needs. They are given the flexibility to notice the little things that matter and the space to listen and connect with the resident more deeply. This enables our staff to provide the best possible experience for our residents.

4. What are their core values — and do they practice them?

This is one consideration that will be less immediately obvious. But, it can be a huge deciding factor in the best location for your family member. All aged care facilities have different values and priorities. Often, these will be listed on their website: it might include things like respect, care or dignity. While this is helpful, it’s also important to consider whether they show evidence of practicing what they preach.

For example, our philosophy at Scalabrini is Sono Io, Italian for This is me. It’s about supporting our residents to live a life full of dignity, by recognising each person for who they truly are. However, we understand that it’s not enough to just talk about it, which is why we have three clear strategies in place to practice this daily. These are providing a strong sense of home, seeing and valuing the person, and giving our staff the space to make a difference.

5. Will they be able to cater for their health needs?

Your loved one is a unique person with their own individual needs. In order to make their life comfortable and pleasant, it’s important that these needs are met. This includes not only current needs, but future health considerations, too. 

At Scalabrini, we have registered nursing staff on site 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. We also provide dementia care, palliative care, end of life planning and chronic and complex pain care.

Deciding on an aged care home for your loved one is a choice that should be made with great consideration, and ideally in collaboration with them. But, by asking these 5 questions, you can make the decision a little easier. 

Career benefits of volunteering

1: 6 ways volunteering in aged care can help your career

Volunteering in aged care is one of the best ways to give back to the community. Whether it’s spending quality time, helping them engage their favourite hobbies or just lending a listening ear, your presence truly enriches the lives of our residents. 

But, what may surprise many people about volunteering is just how mutually beneficial it is. Beyond the benefits like improving your health and mental wellbeing, being a volunteer can actually take you far in your career. Not only does it help you develop key skills, but it’s also looked upon favourably by prospective employers.

Read on to learn about 6 ways being an aged care volunteer can give you a career boost.

1. You can make new connections 

Any time you broaden your horizon and get out of your comfort zone, it naturally expands your network. Spending time volunteering in aged care is no exception! When you volunteer, you meet not only the residents but also the staff, family members of residents and other volunteers. 

Of course, it’s important to be equally kind to everyone you meet, without wanting to get anything out of the interaction. But, you also never know who you’re going to run into. Maybe that resident’s daughter is the CEO of your dream organisation and raves about the lovely volunteer they’ve been spending time with. Or, perhaps you meet another volunteer who is an HR recruiter looking for someone with exactly your skills? 

You never know what opportunities can arise just from being a good person, in the right place at the right time.

2. It can be a great resume bridge

Are you currently between jobs or perhaps you’re in the process of changing careers? Volunteering can be an excellent way to bridge the gap between roles. 

Not only is it an extremely rewarding way to spend some of your newfound free time, but it can actually help you when you start interviewing for roles.  Employers tend to look more favourably upon candidates who undertook volunteer work during times of unemployment.

It shows that you’re driven, self, motivated and proactive, which are all incredibly valuable skills in an employee. Plus, let’s face it — when a hirer asks “So, what have you been doing for the last six months”, volunteering at a retirement home is a far more compelling response than “watching TV in my PJs!”

3. It speaks volumes about your character

It takes a special kind of person to volunteer in aged care. To even have that initial interest in spending your free time this way, you must be altruistic, selfless and generous. But, there are also other traits you need to be a successful volunteer, such as being patient and having strong communication skills.

Many employers are becoming more aware of the importance of culture fit and ‘soft’ skills when hiring a new employee. However, this can be a tough thing to prove, beyond just saying “I’m good with people.” Volunteering can give you a tangible example of your character and give you an edge over the competition. 

4. It builds relevant career experience

It can be tough when you’re first starting out in your career or changing industries, and every job ad seems to call for an ‘entry-level professional with 10 years of experience’ “How am I expected to get that experience if nobody will give me a chance!” you may be wondering. 

Well, volunteering is the perfect way to build your resume in the meantime, with SEEK data showing that 95% of employers consider this to be a credible type of experience. This is particularly helpful if you’re seeking a role in a people-facing industry, like hospitality, healthcare or human resources. But the experience and skills you’ll develop in working in aged care really translate across any role in any industry.

5. It develops and strengths key skills

When you volunteer in aged care, you develop real-world skills that will serve you well, no matter what career path you go down. These include listening skills, problem-solving, creativity and communication. However, at Scalabrini, we also encourage our volunteers to use and build on their own unique skills. Whether you speak a second language, love to dance or a are personal trainer who can lead an exercise session with our residents, there’s always a way you can put your passions to good use.

6. It makes you a more well-rounded person

It’s all well and good to be the most skilled candidate in the room. But, at the end of the day, we spend roughly one-third of our lives in the workplace. So, people naturally want to spend time with others who are kind and interesting!

By getting you out of your comfort zone and exposing you to new experiences and people, volunteering in aged care helps make you a more multi-dimensional person. It also exposes you to different views and perspectives, so that you can be more open-minded and empathetic to others. Plus, you’ll likely have many great stories about the amazing residents you’ll meet, that you can share in the breakroom or at work drinks!

At the end of the day, the best reason to volunteer in aged care is that you genuinely care about helping others. But — you never know, you may find it ends up helping you even more than it helps our residents, especially when it comes to your professional development.

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Moving to an aged care village: Helping seniors adjust to a new normal

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that change can be hard to adjust to — no matter what life stage we’re in. When your world becomes a little smaller and your surroundings and routine change, it can be hard to come to terms with at first. But, over time, you start to adjust to your ‘new normal’ and enjoy many aspects of it.

This can be especially true of seniors who are transitioning into living in an aged care facility. Whether it’s reduced mobility or health issues, there are many reasons for seniors to move from their home. While with the right residential village, this can be a positive change, it can understandably be met with some initial resistance. Seniors may feel displaced, or like they are losing some of their control or independence.

But with the right approach, it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some tips to help a loved one settle happily and comfortably into this vibrant chapter of their life.

Communicate with them

Be sure to include them in your conversations about their living scenario from the get-go. Ask them what it is that’s important to them. Perhaps they would like to live somewhere with lots of social activities, or somewhere with a nice garden, lovely interiors or great food.

Then, you can involve them in your research process as you narrow down your options, whether that’s gathering brochures or sitting down for a Google session together. Then, when you go to tour some aged care villages, be sure to consult them on their opinion, what they liked and disliked about them. The more you involve them in the process, the smoother the transition will be.

Highlight the positives

There are so many wonderful things about aged care living that you just don’t get in everyday life! With so many activities on offer and other people around, many seniors find they have a much more thriving social life than they did previously. 

Plus, they no longer have to worry about menial things like cooking, cleaning and doing the washing. They get to enjoy their life, which is likely what they’ve worked so hard for all these years!

Bring home with them

Moving out of their previous home can be tough for older people, especially if they have lived there for decades. They may feel very attached to their home and the memories made there. But, just because they’re moving, doesn’t mean they can’t bring a piece of home with them. 

Assist your loved one in getting together some sentimental items that they can bring with them. This might include a favourite pillow, some photo frames, or even some old books that smell like their previous home. By having these mementoes at the ready, your loved one can make their new home feel a little more like their old home. 

Emphasise their individuality

It’s of utmost importance that your relative feels that they have autonomy over their own life. So much so that our philosophy at Scalabrini is Sono Io (Italian for ‘This is me’), which is all about recognising and respecting each resident for who they truly are. 

Be sure to communicate to your loved one that just because they are moving, doesn’t mean they’ll lose their individualism.  

In fact, quite the opposite! By asking the right questions and paying attention, our staff spend time getting to know each resident — their likes and dislikes, their history, their story, their personality, their interests and their preferences. So, your loved one will feel cherished and respected.

Encourage them to get involved

The more involved your loved one gets in everyday life at their retirement village, the more enjoyable it’s going to be for them. So, encourage them to take advantage of all that is on offer! Whether it’s striking up a chat at the dinner table, getting out for some gardening or challenging a new friend to a game of cards, there are so many great opportunities for socialising. Be sure to ask with curiosity about the lovely new people they’re meeting, as this will further encourage them to pursue friendships. 

Moving into an aged care village doesn’t have to be a sad or scary time for your relative. With your encouragement and support, they can embrace and thrive in their new surroundings.

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Keeping the brain sharp: The 10 best hobbies for seniors

You’ve likely heard the expression ‘use it or lose it,’ about the ageing brain. While it may sound a little extreme, there is an element of truth to this adage.

The brain is like a muscle, and it needs regular exercise in order to remain strong and healthy. So, to retain cognitive skills like problem solving and creativity, it’s important that seniors use them often! Staying intellectually fit not only improves a senior’s quality of life, but studies also show that it may reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and other brain disorders.

So, what’s the best way seniors can keep the brains sharp and fighting fit? Taking up a hobby! From brain puzzlers to creative projects, here are 10 of the best hobbies for seniors to stay mentally engaged.

1. Geneology

For seniors who haven’t already looked into their family history, there’s no better time to get researching. Genealogy (the study of families) is a great hobby for seniors. Not only is it incredibly interesting, but it’s an excellent way to help preserve your family’s legacy. Plus, you may come from a royal lineage or be related to someone famous and not even know it!

There are many great websites that can help you put together your family tree, such as Ancestry.com and MyHeritage. These have thousands of international documents like birth records, marriage and death certificates to help you trace back your history.

This is also a great bonding hobby you can do with your grandkids, as it will help them understand where they came from, too.

2. Brain games

Just as you can train your body with exercise, you can do the same with your mind with brain games! These are activities that are specifically designed to tease the brain and cognitively challenge you. This could be a puzzle like a crossword or sudoku, or brain training apps like Lumonisity or Brain HQ. Research shows that seniors who regularly practice these kinds of puzzles have sharper brains.

For a more social hobby, you could also play a game like mahjong, chess or checkers with friends or family. These have the added benefit of alleviating loneliness, as well as boosting your brainpower.

3. Scrapbooking

This is a great way for seniors to get creative, while also making a lovely memento they can keep or give as a gift. Grab some old photos (or, get some digital ones printed), get out the craft supplies and go to town creating your masterpiece. You can also use things like glitter and sparkles to add a little extra pizazz to your scrapbook. This is a great activity, as it uses a lot of creativity, as well as fine motor skills.

Not really a fan of arts and craft? You can also use a company like Snapseed to make a digital photo album full of your favourite snaps if you’re computer-savvy (or, get a younger relative to help you).

4. Jigsaw puzzles

Who doesn’t love a good jigsaw puzzle? Sure, it can be a little frustrating when you have that one piece that just won’t slot in anywhere, but that’s half the fun of it — it’s a challenge.

Studies show that solving jigsaw puzzles has a positive impact on visuospatial cognitive awareness in older people, which is the ability to identify visual and spatial relationships among objects. This is an important skill, as it can help stop you from having dangerous falls. 

One of the best things about jigsaw puzzles as a hobby is how versatile they are — you can do them alone, or as a social activity with friends. Plus, it’s always so satisfying when you finally solve one after days of pondering over it!

5. Yoga and tai chi

Hobbies that keep you physically active as well as mentally fit are a huge bonus! The ancient Indian practice yoga and the Chinese martial art of tai chi both fit firmly into this category. 

These activities are popular with seniors, because as well as being relaxing, they are low-impact exercises that aren’t too demanding on the knees.

Both of these activities also have a strong mind-body connection and have been found to have positive effects on cognitive function and working memory. Plus, they’re great ways to practice mindfulness, which can lead to reduced stress and increased happiness.

6. Listening to audiobooks

There’s nothing quite as delightful for the brain as getting immersed in a great story. However, reading can become a little tougher for seniors as eyesight starts to decline.

A great solution? Audiobooks!  These are audible versions of books, narrated out loud. Subscribing to an app like Audible gives you access to thousands of these stories, from romances to detective mysteries. Or, you can go for a non-fiction audiobook to teach you about a new topic or pick up a new skill. The options are endless!

It’s almost like watching a movie, but much better for your brain as you have to use your imagination to visualise Detective Poirot stepping aboard a train, or Elizabeth Bennett riding through the countryside on horseback!

7. Tell your story

Chances are, you have a fair bit of life under your belt by this point. Now is the time to record and preserve your life story, if you haven’t already! Even if you think you’re not much of a writer or struggle with a pen or keyboard, there are some great ways to tell your story. 

Apps like LifeStory make it easy to record your life memory, while companies like MemLife and StoryPress will even turn your story into a beautiful, printed book. You could even get a younger relative to help you with this process, by interviewing and transcribing your story. Then, you can give them the book as a keepsake they’ll cherish forever. 

8. Learning a new skill

It’s never too late to learn a new skill or pick back up an old one! Not only is it a great way to put a new sense of purpose into your day, but it helps create and strengthen neural pathways in the brain. This goes a long way in keeping the mind sharp and healthy. 

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn to speak a second language, play the guitar or sing opera? Now is the time to do that thing you’ve always put off for ‘later.’ From YouTube and podcasts to books and online platforms like Teachable, there are so many great resources out there to teach you anything you want to learn. 

9. Gardening

Gardening is a popular hobby with seniors for good reason. It gets you outside and is relaxing and rewarding — nothing beats the feeling of seeing your blooms or veggie patch come to fruition! Gardening is also a great activity for the brain, as it uses key functions like problem-solving, spatial awareness and dexterity. It has also been found to have a positive impact on physical fitness and stress levels. What’s not to like?

10. Crochet

It’s hard to think of a more well-rounded hobby for seniors than crochet. It uses and challenges so many key cognitive functions, from problem-solving to hand-eye coordination. Plus, it helps keeps the hands busy, and is something you can do anytime and anywhere! One of the best things about crochet is that you get something tangible at the end, whether it’s a scarf for winter or a blanket for a grandchild. This helps make it all the more rewarding! 

Whether you’re looking for a hobby for yourself or a senior relative, the good news is there’s no shortage to choose from. Regularly taking part in these activities is a great way to keep the mind in tip-top condition. At Scalabrini, we have a wide range of activities on offer for our residents and are dedicated to helping them find the right one to ensure they are feeling happy and engaged. 

Winter safety tips for seniors

5 winter safety tips for seniors and caregivers

After a challenging few months, we’re hopefully seeing an end to the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia. However, this doesn’t mean it’s time to stop being extra vigilant about our health. With winter upon us, it’s more important than ever to take care of ourselves and the people around us.

This is especially true of older Australians. Not only do seniors have reduced immune defenses against winter colds and flus, but there are other potential health risks caused by cold temperatures and slippery surfaces after rain.

The good news is, there are a few simple precautions you can take to keep yourself or your loved ones safe and healthy this winter. Check out these 5 winter safety tips for seniors and caregivers.

1. Rug up

It’s time to pull those winter woolies out of storage! As we age, the metabolic processes that regulate body temperature slow down. This means seniors have a much higher risk of getting hypothermia, even when the temperatures outside don’t feel freezing.

For this reason, it’s extremely important that older people layer up with warm clothes in winter. This means jumpers, scarves, beanies and possibly even warm base layers like long-johns depending on your local climate. For seniors with a reduced range of movement, you may want to consider velcro or snap button outer layers that are easy to take on or off as necessary.

Rugging up is just as important indoors as it is when spending time outside. In fact, a study in Victoria found that 87% of hospitalised elderly hypothermia cases were indoors when their symptoms arose.

If you are a caregiver, ensure the person in your care has plenty of warm blankets and a properly working indoors heating system. Generally, a mounted air conditioning system is safer than a space heater or fireplace, which can increase the risk of house fires and burns.

2. Injury-proof your surroundings

The risk of winter injuries is heightened in elderly people, who often have reduced balance and weaker bone and muscle strength. Falls can occur even when indoors, due to the reduced sensation in the legs and feet from the cold weather. 

If you or your loved one is spending time outdoors (even if it’s just to go the garden or mailbox), sturdy shoes with a strong grip are essential. This is particularly important for those who live in areas with snow or heavy rain in winter, as this can create slippery surfaces.

Inside the home, handrails (particularly in the bathroom or at the entryway to the home), clear pathways and strong lighting can help reduce the risk of a dangerous tumble.

3. Limit time spent outside

Now that self-isolation restrictions around COVID-19 have been loosened, it’s only natural that many seniors are eager to spend time outdoors in the cool, crisp air.

However, it’s still important that older people limit unnecessary outings — and only venture out if given the go-ahead from their doctor. 

While the incidence of new COVID-19 cases is currently low, the fact is they do still exist, and older people are at higher risk of fatalities from the virus. So, be smart and selective about your outings, and continue to stay away from large groups of people.  

For example, while having tea with a friend might be okay, a grocery shopping outing may be better replaced with an online delivery service.

Limiting unnecessary time spent outdoors in the colder months can also reduce the risk of falls, as well as other health conditions like winter colds or chest infections.

4. Take care against the flu

With so much talk around COVID-19, it’s easy to forget about the plethora of other winter colds and flus that go around at this time of year. While these are nowhere near as deadly as Coronavirus, they can still take a heavy toll on the health of the elderly.

If you haven’t already, consider getting your 2020 influenza shot and encouraging your loved ones to do so also. This will not only reduce the risk of getting the flu but can also reduce the severity and length of the symptoms.

Also be sure to continue washing your hands thoroughly and keeping clear of other people who are ill.

If you do find you’re exhibiting symptoms of the flu, be sure to get tested to rule out COVID-19. After all, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

5. Look after the body

It’s always important to treat your body well, but this is especially true in the colder months. The good news is, there are a few winter health tips for seniors that make it easy to do so.

Firstly, make sure you’re eating a diet filled with plenty of immune-boosting foods. Older people often have lower levels of vitamin C, which is essential for fighting infection.

The best food sources of this powerhouse vitamin include citrus fruits like oranges, mandarins, grapefruit and lemon. Garlic is also an illness-fighting superstar, thanks to its sulphur-containing compounds. Consider adding it to your meals for an extra immunity boost.

It’s also important to ensure you’re getting plenty of rest. By getting at least eight hours of quality sleep, you can help strengthen your body’s ability to fight off winter colds and flus. This can also help reduce the risk of falls or injuries, by keeping the brain sharp and awake!

This tip goes not only for elderly people, but for caregivers too — who can often find themselves exhausted or burnt out. By ensuring you’re taking good care of yourself, you can reduce your own risk of getting sick and potentially passing it on to the person you’re caring for.

Finally, seniors should make sure they’re drinking plenty of fluids. While it may sound surprising, seniors can actually have an increased risk of dehydration in winter. This is because the colder temperatures can reduce natural urges to drink water throughout the day, because it doesn’t feel hot.

To help keep the body of hydrated, make sure you or your older loved one is sipping plenty of water throughout the day. Also keep in mind that caffeinated beverages like coffee or black tea are diuretics, so they can make the body more dehydrated and don’t count towards liquid intake.

By following these 5 simple tips, you can help make sure you or your older loved one has a lovely and safe winter!

Take care of mental wellbeing in COVID-19

How to take care of your mental wellbeing when the world feels crazy

While the situation around COVID-19 seems to be improving in Australia, many of us are still being bombarded with anxiety-provoking information. From news alerts about the death toll to speculations about the future of the economy or someone on your Facebook feed spruiking conspiracy theories, it can feel as though the world has been tipped upside down.

In times of change, uncertainty and hardship, it becomes even more important to look after your mental wellbeing. In doing so, you can help to keep feelings of being overwhelmed, anxiety and fear at bay.

But, how do you stay sane when the world feels crazy? Here are 6 tips for managing your mental wellbeing in the coronavirus crisis that you can use yourself, or pass on to loved ones who are struggling.

Practice mindfulness

Many people associate the practice of mindfulness with yoga and meditation. But while these are certainly both great ways to practice it, they’re not the only ways.

At the heart of it, mindfulness is about staying present in the current moment. It’s not fretting about that frightening news article you read earlier or worrying about the next time you’re going to see your loved ones. It’s staying in the right here, right now — because in the present moment, things are fine.

Mindfulness has been proven to positively impact the body’s stress response, so that you feel more calm, centred and in control. And, you don’t necessarily have to sit cross-legged on the floor and try not to think about anything to do so, if that’s not your style.

Some other great ways you can practice mindfulness in your everyday life include prayer, doing creative activities like colouring-in or painting, crosswords — anything where you get completely absorbed in what you’re doing. 

You can also incorporate mindfulness into mundane activities like washing the dishes, by focusing on your sensations i.e. what can you smell, what can you hear and what can you feel?

Take a digital detox

It’s important to know the facts around the ever-changing coronavirus situation, so that you can take necessary precautions. But beyond that, the constant barrage of information can do you more harm than good. 

Not all news sources are completely accurate, and many make their money by enticing people to click on sensationalist headlines. So, to help alleviate some of your stress, you may want to consider doing a digital detox. 

Try culling some of your sources of news information that aren’t absolutely essential and instead get your news only from credible sources such as the Australian government or the World Health Organisation. 

Rather than constantly getting alerts from these every day, you may choose to check these once a day at the same time, or watch just one news update per night.

Prioritise your physical health

Your physical and mental health are inextricably connected, and you cannot have one without the other. So, in order to take care of your mind, it’s also important to take care of your body. When we’re run down, we’re more susceptible to stress and anxiety, and vice versa.

Some great ways to take care of your physical health include drinking plenty of water, eating a diet full of nutritious foods and moving your body at least once per day. If possible, also see if you can get outdoors for at least a few minutes per day, whether that’s for a brief walk around the neighbourhood or to do some gardening in the yard.

It’s also important for your overall wellbeing to get at least eight hours of sleep per night. If you are struggling to get to adequate sleep, incorporating mindfulness and digital detoxes from the previous steps might help, as well as getting some exercise and sunlight.

Look out for those around you

In times like this, it’s more important than ever to remember that we’re all in this together. Helping others in need during this difficult time is not only the right thing to do, but it can actually help with your own mental wellbeing.

Research actually shows that helping others can boost your mood and make it easier to deal with stress. It helps take your mind off you and your own worries and instead, focus on the bigger picture.

One great way you can help others in this time of need includes looking out for the seniors in your life — whether that’s your neighbours, family or friends.

With strict government advice for those over 60 to stay home, many older Australians are dealing with strong feelings of loneliness and sadness. We’ve put together a list of some simple ways you can look out for the elderly in this article.

Remain calm but cautious

As the age-old expression goes “be alert, but not alarmed.” Remaining as calm as possible during the COVID-19 outbreak doesn’t mean that you don’t care about doing your bit. It simply means that you’re focusing on what’s within your own circle of control (your own actions and how you react to it) and relinquishing control of the things you cannot. 

You may want to consider making a list of the actions you can take to help the situation (such as being vigilant about washing your hands, practising social distancing, volunteering or helping others in need) so that you can focus on those, rather than what’s out of your control.

Create a routine

In a world filled with uncertainty, it can be helpful to have rituals that feel familiar and grounding. To help give some structure to your days, you may want to consider incorporating some routine into your daily life.

This might be having a cuppa on the balcony every morning, or writing down a list of things you’re grateful for every night. It could also be looking at photos of loved ones first thing in the morning and last thing at night. These routines can bookend your day and help give you some much-needed certainty.

By following the tips on this list, you can look after your mental wellbeing while you need it most — and be a calming influence on the people around you, too.

Help the elderly in COVID-19

We’re all in this together: How to help the elderly in the COVID-19 pandemic

While we may currently be separated by distance, it’s more important than ever for us to all come together as Australians. 

In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, we all share a responsibility to look out for and protect the highest-risk members of our community — our elderly. 

A big part of this is maintaining distance, so as to not potentially spread the virus if you are unknowingly carrying it. But, just because you may not be able to physically spend time with the older people in your life, it doesn’t mean you can’t help support them through these difficult times.

Here are 4 simple ways you can look out for the elderly during the COVID-19 outbreak, whether that’s your parents, grandparents, neighbours or other relatives 

Volunteer to run errands 

People over the age of 60 have been instructed by the Australian government to stay home. While this is for the best, it can present new challenges to seniors who may be used to being able to pop out and get their groceries or send off their mail. 

One great way you can help the older people in your community is by offering to run their errands for them. This could mean taking their shopping list and doing a grocery run for them, or ordering online on their behalf. You could also offer to take their laundry to the laundromat, or pick up their medication (so long as they can arrange to give their pharmacist authority for you to do so). 

Some local councils have been handing out slips you can slide under your neighbour’s door, with a box they can check if they need assistance. Otherwise, you could make your own, or simply pick up the phone and ask if they need a hand. This simple gesture could make a huge difference in someone’s life.

Help them get connected

For many older people, social activities or community outings are the highlights of their week. The good news is, there are a few different online social activities they can do to help combat feelings of loneliness and boredom. These include everything from chat rooms for seniors to online concerts and church services.

One great way you can help the seniors in your life is by assisting in getting them set up with the tech to use these services. This might be a case of giving them instructions over the phone, or taking their laptop to set it up for them and recording a short, step-by-step video.

For more tips in helping seniors get connected, check out this article.

Check up on them regularly 

Sometimes, just knowing that somebody cares can be enough to completely brighten someone’s day. So, one way you can help is by simply checking up on them often to see how they’re going. 

This could be tapping on your neighbour’s window every few days for a quick chat, or picking up the phone. 

At Scalabrini, we have our residents set up with iPads with video chat capabilities. So, if your loved one lives at a Scalabrini village, feel free to organise to do video calls with them to let them know you care. You can book in your video chat here.

You could also record a lovely, heartfelt video message that they can play. We see first-hand what a smile this puts on our residents’ faces!

Lend a friendly ear

Unfortunately, not every older person has someone in their life who will check up on them often. The good news is, you can still make a difference in the life of someone you don’t even know. 

Organisations like the Red Cross run volunteer programs where you do daily phone call check-ins with older and disabled people to check that they’re ok — and just to have a chat! Have a search and see if there are any opportunities for telecross volunteering in your area. 

At the end of the day, we’re all in this together. By making a conscious effort to look out for our elders, we can help take care of their physical and mental health in these challenging times.

Blog Post

Missing Nana or Grandpa? How to answer kids’ questions about the Coronavirus

The COVID-19 outbreak can be scary and overwhelming for anybody, but this is especially true for children. 

Kids, particularly those on the younger side, may find it difficult to understand why they can’t leave the house, or why they’re not allowed to go see Nana and Pop anymore. This can cause feelings of confusion, sadness and even anger.

It can be challenging to find the right balance between scaring children with Coronavirus facts, and helping them to understand the situation at hand. But by using the tips below, you will be able to answer questions have about COVID-19 with tact, and alleviate some of their fears.

Acknowledge their questions

First and foremost, it’s important that children feel heard and that their questions aren’t silly. Be sure to listen intently, and avoid interrupting until they have finished speaking.  

Then, you can tell them that their worries are normal and that you’re here to help them through it.

You can also ask them what they already know about the situation and how they are feeling about it, so you can address any concerns or misconceptions they might have.  

Remain calm 

Children often pick up on our behaviour more than we realise, and this influences their own moods and emotions. When they see a parent or other adult worrying, they may see this as their cue to worry too.

So, be sure to address your own concerns and anxieties about the situation before you sit down to talk to a child. Model calmness during your conversation and they will likely follow your lead. 

Learn the facts

There is such an overload of information out there about COVID-19 that it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. 

It’s important to familiarise yourself with current information about the Coronavirus from reputable sources such as the World Health Organisation or Australian Government’s health alert.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to alarm your child with information like the most recent death toll. But it will arm you with the confidence that you know what you’re talking about.

Be honest

Although it may be tempting to say whatever will put their little mind at ease, white lies or unnecessary sugar coating can do more harm than good. 

With children having such easy access to the information these days, it can break trust or leave them feeling more confused if they hear contrasting information from another source.

Try to avoid saying things like “it’s no big deal” or promising that nobody they know will contract the virus, as unfortunately that’s out of your control.

Instead, be honest with them about the situation, but keep the focus on things that are within control. 

For example, you could say something like “yes, there is a higher risk if the elderly catching the virus, but Nan and Pop are doing all the right things to stay safe.” 

Give age-appropriate answers

It’s also important to tailor your language, based on the age of the child. 

For younger children (for example, under 10) you might explain that COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new germ or bug, and that germs are organisations that are so tiny that we can’t see them, but they can make us sick if they get into our bodies. 

For older children or teenagers, you may choose to delve a little deeper into the science — especially if they’ve shown an interest in it. Understanding the ‘why’ can help unveil some of the mystery around it and make it feel that little less scary. 

Not quite sure how to put it all into words? Red Cross has some great examples of phrases you can use when talking to young people about COVID-19 that you can use as a starting point.

Focus on the positives

It may feel as though silver linings are few and far in between at the moment. However, there are some positives you can focus on to remind children that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

For example, it can be helpful to remind children that there have been many pandemics throughout history and that the experts know exactly what to do — it will just take some time. 

You could also focus on the fact that China has already been through what we are experiencing, and are beginning to come out the other side. 

If all else fails, remind them that the world will keep spinning, the sun will come up tomorrow, and that you have each other!

Help them find solutions 

In such tumultuous times, it’s important to help kids regain a sense of control. Rather than focusing on the uncertainty of the situation, focus on what they can do to keep themselves and the community safe. 

Teach them proper hand-washing technique and remind them to stay away from others if they do leave the home.

You can also help them play a proactive role in communicating with loved ones like grandparents.  

For example, you could encourage them to schedule a weekly phone or video chat at the same time each week.  Staying in regular contact with Grandma and Grandpa will also help reassure them that they are okay. 

By following these simple tips, you can help your kids or grandkids navigate this uncharted territory and take a weight off their little shoulders. 

Keep seniors connected during Coronavirus

6 Tips to Keep Seniors Connected During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Social engagement is essential for helping seniors maintain optimal health and quality of life. However, with the outbreak of Coronavirus, older Australians are being instructed to practice the exact opposite — self isolation.

With seniors being the highest risk group for COVID-19, staying indoors and limiting contact with others is essential. However, this change in way of life can be quite isolating and disorienting.

The good news is, there are a few simple ways seniors can stay connected to their friends, family and community during the pandemic. Not only can this help combat feelings of loneliness, it ensures they are kept in the loop with the right information about the virus.

Read on for 6 tips for seniors to stay connected during the Coronavirus.

1. Schedule virtual chats

For many older Australians, drop-ins from friends and family are the highlight of the week.

While in-person gatherings aren’t currently an option, the good news is it’s still possible to chat face-to-face.

There are many great video conferencing apps that can facilitate virtual catchups.

For people using a computer, Skype and Zoom are great options — and they allow multiple users, so the whole family can get involved.

For those on a mobile or tablet, FaceTime, WhatsApp or Houseparty are simple apps that will connect you with the click of a button.

If you are trying to keep your parent or grandparent connected, why not schedule recurring video calls? It will give them something to look forward to each week.

2. Get confident with tech

If the thought of downloading new apps feels a bit overwhelming – or, you’re trying to set a parent or grandparent up remotely — there are a range of great Australian programs that can help.

 For example, Telstra’s free Tech Savvy Seniors program uses short and easy-to-follow videos to get users set up on mobile devices, emails and other computer programs. 

There’s also the federal government’s Be Connected Program the GoDigi Program, which is a partnership from Australia Post and Infoxchange and the Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association.

These initiatives will help get you or your loved one set up and confidently using tech devices.

3. Join online communities

Whether you’re an avid reader, a keen knitter or are mad about gardening, there are online communities for nearly every type of hobby.

Joining these can not only help keep seniors busy at home, but it allows them to connect with other likeminded people.

Senior Chatters is a great website that hosts discussions across an array of different topics, from group chatrooms to one-on-one chats.

The charity Active Ageing is another Australian resource that keeps seniors engaged in a range of virtual activities they can do from home — from physical activities to verbal crosswords to sudoku. They also recently launched a Friendly Phone Calls program, for those who prefer to chat on the phone.

4. Organise virtual outings

While it may not be possible to physically get out and about, seniors can still enjoy their favourite pastimes from the comfort of their armchairs.

Rather than cancelling their concerts, many musical performers are putting on virtual concerts that can be streamed from a computer or smartphone. For example, Classicfm has a great directory of classical concerts and symphonies that will be livestreamed online.

Even church can be attended virtually, with many churches taking their Sunday services online.

5. Volunteer

Not only can volunteering help keep seniors busy, it’s an excellent way to stay connected to the wider community.

Plus, sometimes during difficult times, the most fulfilling you can do is help others. Luckily, seniors can easily volunteer from home without physically coming into contact with others.

Many organisations — such as not-for-profits, political parties and faith-based groups — rely on volunteers to make phone calls.

Check out the websites Volunteering Australia or GoVolunteer to see if there’s an opportunity that could be a good fit.

6. Monitor news consumption

With the situation around Coronavirus rapidly changing, it’s important that seniors remain up-to-date with the latest news and health guidelines.

However, the constant stream of media coverage — which isn’t always 100% accurate — can just exaggerate an already stressful situation.

Try to avoid getting your Coronavirus news from Facebook, or keeping your TV on all day — or, encourage your older loved one not to do so. Instead, simply watching a 30-minute news coverage each night should be enough to stay sufficiently updated.

By following these tips, seniors can remain safe, engaged and connected during the Coronavirus crisis.

Volunteering

The benefits of volunteering in aged care

They say that in life, you only get what you give — and this is certainly the case when it comes to volunteering in aged care. 

There’s no doubt that by generously donating their time and skills, our volunteers make our residents lives a little brighter.  But what many volunteers don’t anticipate is just how much the experience will enrich their own lives, too. In fact, volunteering is often just as beneficial to our volunteers as it is our residents!

From your health and happiness to your career and social life, becoming an aged care volunteer can positively impact nearly every aspect of your life. Here are some of the top benefits of volunteering.

Give back to the community

Becoming an aged care volunteer is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. Just by spending time with our residents, you can help fill their lives with joy and positivity. However, the benefits of helping others go both ways. Volunteering can help give your life a strong sense of purpose and meaning that other forms of work may not.

This is particularly helpful for volunteers who are retired from the workplace, and find themselves with more time on their hands. It can give them an excellent reason to leap out of bed in the morning, eager to make a difference in our resident’s lives.

Volunteering is also great for young people. Connecting with someone from another generation gives you a whole new perspective about life and an appreciation for those who have come before you.

Broaden your perspective

It’s easy to get wrapped in the day-to-day hustle and bustles and all the issues that come with modern life. Volunteering is the perfect opportunity to break up your daily routine and expand your horizons. 

Coming from all different walks of life, our residents have lived through diverse experiences and many different stages of history. In working with them, you’ll often get to hear their extraordinary stories. Some of them have experienced great challenges and adversity throughout their lifetimes, too. 

It’s a great way to get a reality check, and remind yourself that there’s more to life than emails and social media.

Make new friends

Volunteering in aged care allows you to strike up friendships with people who you may not otherwise ever get the opportunity to meet. Firstly, you will get to know our lovely residents, who have plenty of love and wisdom to share.

You’ll also to get to know the other volunteers. This is an excellent way to broaden your social circle, which can be difficult to do as an adult. If you are recently retired or an empty nester, this is a great way to quell some of the feelings of loneliness that can come with this big transition.

Improve your health

There are multiple studies that show volunteering can alleviate stress and boost your mood. There’s a couple of different reasons why this is the case. Firstly, research shows that oxytocin (a neurotransmitter that regulates social interaction) spikes in some people who regularly volunteer, helping them to better manage stress. Scientists also believe that volunteering can also take the focus off your worries for a while, which reduces feelings of stress. 

You don’t have to give up all of your time to reap the benefits, either. In a report from Volunteering Australia, 95% of participants said that volunteering improved their personal wellbeing — and that even just a few hours made a difference to their happiness and mood.

The benefits of volunteering go beyond just your mental health. In another survey, volunteers reported a range of health benefits after participating in a casual volunteer role over 12 months. The volunteers experienced an 11% increase in social wellbeing, a 9% increase in physical health, a 7% increase in life satisfaction and a 4% decrease in depression.

Learn new skills

There are many valuable skills gained from volunteering with people living with dementia that can be applied to your work, family life and other relationships. One of these is communication. As there can be some barriers in conversing, our volunteers often to find creative ways to communicate with residents. Other important skills you’ll gain or further develop from volunteering include patience, problem-solving, working well in a group, organisation and empathy.

Boost your resume

While we don’t recommend volunteering in aged care simply because it looks good on a resume, it’s certainly an added bonus. Due to the many skills that are gained from volunteer work, it’s often looked upon favourably by prospective employers. Research from SEEK shows that 92% of employers say that relevant volunteer experience gives candidates an advantage in job interviews. This may be partly because it shows you have strong core values that can be difficult to convey in a job interview setting, such as selflessness and a willingness to roll up your sleeves and help. 

Volunteering in aged care can also be helpful for bridging the gap if you are returning to workforce after an extended break. It can help refresh your skills and get you ready to attend job interviews again.

Whether you’re a good listener, are great at arts and crafts or a talented guitar player, your unique skills and personality could make an immense difference in the lives of our residents. In doing so, you’ll reap the benefits, too. To learn more about how you can get involved, head to our volunteering page.