Old People?

Old People?

We are all going to be getting old, if we don’t die beforehand. It is no surprise to me that we all tend to ignore it – and I feel,  our society tends to ignore old people.

Older People?  Who cares?

Young people appear to have little interest in seniors or old members of our society.

Do politicians care?

With an election only days away in Queensland, many of us seniors (old people) are rather disappointed that there is little, in fact, no, discussion by potential politicians about plans to make life better for seniors. Even the government has no policy about the aged in our community.  It is as if this cohort does not exist.  I have written to some – and had no response. It is as if we are not of any value to them. Yet, it is a very large cohort.

Day after day there are articles in the press about the housing issues affecting many people in Australia – and particularly about older folk.

There has been so much publicity about the disappointing way seniors have been treated in the “retirement villages” in Australia and I am pleased to see that there are some changes being made.

Old? Aged? Seniors?  What about Elders.

I’d also like to make some changes about how older people are spoken about. “Old”, “aged”, “seniors” – what about “elders” – doesn’t that sound better?
The area of interest for me, is the issues facing senior solo people. In particular, housing for senior solo women. I am interested in doing a PhD on a topic that encompasses senior solo women – but with my current “work” load it is not going to happen.
Some things though, I do some informal research on. I believe that there are many “disappointing” things happening within the housing industries. For a start, I believe that many are not about helping seniors, as much as it is about profit.

Public Housing

Does anyone really think it is ok, to put older people in public housing with little or no support? There is generally no security in some of these places, and no on-site “caretaker”. It’s like – “You’ve got a roof over your head, so shut up!” I can take you to public housing where there are major issue – even just getting maintenance is difficult, if not impossible.
Recently I have heard about a seniors housing complex where the “manager” acts like a dictator. He has refused to allow residents to participate in the committee. Once upon a time, residents were part of the team – but recently it has been “decreed” by the manager that only he can make decisions. It doesn’t take much to imagine how happy the residents are.
I am passionate about a specific co-housing model. Watch this video to learn how it works in the UK.

Senior Cohousing – the way to do it from OWCH on Vimeo.

 

 




The Issue of Security

Security for Women

With the publicity around the alleged behaviour of Movie Mogul, Henry Weinstein, there are more stories about the way women have been treated.  We, women, know it has been happening for many years.  I was pleased to hear that my daughter has not had the horrific experiences that I have had.  It was commonplace if one was born in the 40’s and 50’s.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

As a nurse, I was particularly vulnerable.  Not that it was so much in my work as a nurse, but some men felt that nurses were a good target for their unwanted sexual advances.   I did learn that even working in a hospital one was vulnerable to male senior staff. In the 1980’s my nursing career came to an end, as I coped with the continual unwanted advances of a senior staff member.  I was to learn later that other nurses let him have his way with them.  It was to maintain their jobs, and that he was subsequently punished, though I don’t know the details.

Security is an Issue

I have spoken with many women in recent times when talking about the needs of senior solo women.  One issue that is always raised is security.  There are some things discussed.

  • The vulnerability women feel, especially at night. We have an increasingly violent society – with the media every day reporting on home invasions and violence in public places.  Women are constantly aware of their vulnerability!
  • Women feel at risk in a variety of scenarios. Especially if they are on their own.  Many reports that they have felt badly treated when buying a car, shopping, in banking and much more.
  • Many women report that they do not wish to live in a housing complex where males also live. The number of men who think that a solo woman is in desperate need of sex is astounding.  While some women would enjoy a romantic encounter, they don’t wish to be harassed and intimidated.

A really big problem is how solo women manage when challenges arrive.  What do you do if you are unwell, and have no family or close friends nearby?

An example of this is that if one goes into public housing (and I am talking about Queensland here), you will be offered a property where the other residents could be a mix of males/females/alcoholics/drug addicts/domestic violence victims and more.  I’ve spoken to women who keep to themselves as they feel a little intimidated by the other residents.

There is a perception that older women are of no value.  I hear regular stories of older women being intimidated by family too.

I am particular enthusiastic about founding a housing project for senior solo women.  They will feel more secure and be amongst women just like themselves – solo and seeking secure housing with plenty of support.

I’ll keep working on it.

 

 



Marriage Problems and Violence

There’s a lot more in the press about the issue of domestic violence and marriage problems.  Laws are being changed to intercept and stop the abuse, take care of the wife and children and punish the perpetrator.  There are more programs to assist the violent people to ensure that they stop their destructive ways.

I have had the opportunity to speak with many solo women about their experiences and I find it shocking.

Abuse is Not Normal

There will be major change, I believe, but it will take a little while.  So many children have seen what their parents have done, and some will continue the ways that they see as “normal” unless and until they can be retrained.

It’s good to see men standing up and telling their stories in the hope that others will see that it is not the way to treat someone you are supposed to love.  Congratulations to this man who has been able to tell his story.

ABC Stories

Other stories are coming out too.  “Stop Punching Women” says another on the ABC.

Story after story.  It breaks my heart.  Domestic Violence.

As you can see from these stories on the ABC, it is not just the victim and perpetrator and children that are affected, it is the police, nurses, doctors, support teams and so forth.  What horror they have to work with!!!!

Photo by Dev Benjamin from Unsplash.com

Domestic Violence is just one cause for women to be homeless, but it is major one as so many women have chosen to leave an abusive marriage.  Remember too, it is not just physical abuse, but verbal and financial abuse too.  Someone who drinks to much and causes financial hardship, gamblers who lose too much and so it goes.

Let’s Make Change

We must all work for a better and safer world – we may not be able to do much about the horrid wars and violence in other countries, but we can work to make our own country the safest in the world for all its people.

A Collection of Articles from Brisbane Times

Today (August 2nd, 2017 )I found a collection of articles on the Brisbane Times website.  It has been a concern of mine for a long time, that some companies in the aged care/retirement living industries are more concerned about profits than helping the elderly.

Some of the articles:

  • “Calls for action on retirement villages grows louder.”  Click here. 
  • “Aveo’s new Freedom Aged Care program comes at a high cost.”  Click here.
  • “Outcry over Aveo’s tactics as it pushes into aged care.” Click here.
  • “States scurry to reform retirement villages and ward off federal intervention.” Click here.

  •  Here is a collection of articles on the subject from the Sydney Morning Herald.  Cl22-July-The-Age-SMH-Freedom-articles-

One phrase that is heard often in this discussion is

  “Bleed them dry until they die”

While I acknowledge the good work done by most organisations in the care of our seniors, I object to the high-profit margins and “price gouging” that appears to be a major part of the aged care system.

One certainly needs a lot of money to go into a “retirement village” – and despite all the publicity from those organisations, not everyone is happy.

Recently I made inquiries about a seniors rental complex.

Rental of a one bedroom unfurnished “unit” is $385 per week, which includes 3 meals a day.    To rent a 3 bedroom house/unit in many areas of Queensland, you could pay around $325 per week rent,

To rent a 3 bedroom house/unit in many areas of Queensland, you could pay around $325 per week rent, so why would you pay $285 a week for a one bedroom unit?  (Allowing for $100 a week for meals.)

I also note that there are retirement villages in South Australia and Western Australia where the rent is less than $200 per week.  (Meals not included.)

Stories Galore

Continually in the press, there are articles about the issues facing senior solo women who do not have the funds to buy their own home, and indeed many are unable to afford their own rental property.

And despite all the publicity, I see no action by government at state or federal level, to assist.

Interestingly, when reading a book, “Pixie Annat  Champion of Nurses” I found the following lines

“Pixie loved her work with St Lukes and Anglicare: ‘I was passionate about care of the aged.  These people have lived in a less prosperous Australia, working at their first job for less than a few dollars a week. They fought world wars and the Great Depression and paid for their own homes without government assistance. Today we are looked on as a burden to the taxpayer.  I find that insulting.  They are the ones responsible for helping establish our wealthy country.  They are entitled to comfort and the best care possible, and I will continue to advocate for them.’

From page 92 of Pixie Annat “Champion of Nurses”

That is one of the problems with our modern world.  It seems that many people do not understand that one day they will be an older person in our society.  I wonder if they are concerned about how they will be treated when that time comes?

I must say that I had been fortunate to spend a lot of time with older people.  As a nurse, where I often worked with older people, especially those in hospital but I also worked in an aged care facility too.

As I get older myself, I know I have a better understanding of the challenges older people face.

Once upon a time we had larger families – where there was often a sibling that one could live with, or see often.  These days there are smaller families.  One or two child families.  Often one is along, because the other is deceased, lives far away, or some other issue.

In my case, I have a daughter and son living in the same state, but both work and have little time to “look after” me.  Financial considerations are challenging too.

Still, I know I deserve better.  I know that I and other seniors should be treated with more dignity and respect.

 

Increasing Interest in Older Women’s Homelessess

There seems to be increasing discussion on the issue of senior women’s housing issues.

Another article appeared in my inbox.   Click here to read it.

We are getting closer to creating a not-for-profit organisation and linking with other organisations interested in the topic.

In the recent State Budget there has been an increase in funding for “public housing” but I am concerned that just building bricks and mortar “units” is not necessarily the answer for many women.

Shared Housing is an option for many – but as I have probably said, it is not something that interests me.  I’ve tried and failed.  Retirement Villages work for some, but some solo women find them a little challenging.

Granny flats work for some – but it is likely that the “granny” will become somewhat isolated.  Families these days are terribly busy and have their own lives to lead, so often granny is neglected.

We need to look at a range of options.

Work is being done on this – something that SOSEW will be involved in.  Watch this space.

We are also seeking women who are prepared to tell their stories.   If you would like to participate, please send a message via the contact page.  Your privacy will be protected and we will not be using real names.  If you are in the Brisbane area, let us know please.

Homeless Women Article on Mission Australia Website

Mission Australia’s website details the stories of two homeless women.  Click here to read it. 

Federal Budget

The Federal Government released its proposed budget details, but despite the fact of a housing crisis there was not a lot of hope for those who are coping with housing affordability or similar.  It was very disappointing.

SOSEW PROGRESS

There are some developments with SOSEW which will be detailed on this site shortly.  I have had a couple of meetings with people who will support our aims.  One thing that will be organised in the next few weeks is to form an incorporated association.  This will give us recognition as a “real” organisation. I have a number of people interested in being on our initial board.  Identifying and creating the wording of our ‘objectives’  is being worked on at the moment.

We are also interested in hearing the stories of Australian women – about their housing challenges.  While there are many stories in the press, there are two of us working together on a publication of stories.  If you would like to tell your story – can you make contact through the Contact Form or our Facebook page – send a message on FB – do not give your personal details on Facebook.  The idea of the publication is to seek further support for SOSEW.

Everyone we speak with shows interest in the cohousing model that we talk about – but it will take a long time to set up.  One of the biggest hurdles is to get governments to take action.  The federal government does have a housing budget but the states are the ones that manage the funds.

People all around Australia who are in the rental market report challenges.  I see tenants as just making money for the landlords.  While there are many good landlords, there are some that just milk the tenants.

My Story

I moved out of my rental property last week.  I’d had enough of paying high rents and having to fight to get maintenance etc.  Even in my last weeks, the treatment by the real estate agent did not impress.  In the midst of packing, I was advised that a prospective tenant would be visiting with the agent to inspect the unit.  I spent an hour or so tidying up etc, but at the appointed time no one came.  The agent didn’t have the courtesy to communicate with me.  The following day, another time was made.  Again the prospective tenant did not show up.  The agent did this time.   I must say the agents were impressed with the condition of the unit when I left and I did receive my bond back and quickly too.

 

 

 

 




Ageing Women are the New Homeless

The headlines are “Aging Women are the New Homeless.”It is no surprise to me – and many of my friends.  I meet regularly with a group of women who are looking at sharing a house to manage the challenges of being a single senior woman.  Sharing comes with its own set of problems.

Within the next 10 days I move out of my unit into my campervan.  It will be my home – until I can afford some bricks and mortar of some sort.  I am one of many doing this.

I am still working on a program of co-housing for women – but I have a lot to do to get it off the ground and I welcome any support.  If you go to Facebook and send me a message, I will update you.

Over and over again I hear the stories of women, many who are amazingly positive about the future, who are faced with enormous challenges finding a suitable home.

My solution is only short term – how can I live forever in a campervan?  Clearly, as I age, a whole range of problems will face me.  Even now people ask me where I am going to park my van.  To go into a caravan park is expensive, though much cheaper than paying rent,  but at the moment I will do what other women do.  Just stop the van when and where they want to.  I know they can be moved on, but that is the only option for some women.

Housing Affordability

In recent weeks there has been a lot of press about housing affordability, but little or no reference to this cohort.  Until today.  The story is in many papers.  I will be starting on work with SOSEW in the next few weeks.  I just have to manage to move from the unit to the van.  Watch this space.

Read the article here. 

I am also looking for women to help me on the massive journey to create great permanent affordable housing for senior solo women.  If you would like to help, please contact me via Facebook or the contact form.

Is Shared Housing for You?

A number of ladies have recommended Shared Housing.  It is a great idea – especially if you can find the “right” person to share with.  Many people  choose share – it reduces most living costs and provides a friend to share time and activities with.  It can, though, be a challenge if there is any conflict.

My experience has not been good.  As part of our employment, I was required to share a two bedroom apartment.  The first week was ok, but it went downhill from there.  I won’t go into detail but the lady “demanded” I do things for her, she announced that she would do all the cooking and I would just have to eat what she provided.  There was no consultation.  She dictated. When I protested and endeavoured to negotiate, she yelled at me.  I went to my room and pondered the future.  We had another 5 months to go!

She then started telling people that I had “assaulted” her.  I had commenced worth there some weeks before her, and luckily for me, the employers did not believe her ranting.  She also had caused some problems with other people.  She was moved to another apartment.  It really upset me in many ways.  The idea of sharing, unless I know and get on well with the person I will share with, is scary to me.

I am looking for something more permanent too.

Image from Unsplashed. Photo by Henry Be

Shared Housing Problem

A recent story, about a guy, whose health deteriorated and his long term sharer in an apartment decreed that he didn’t want to live with someone who was ageing quickly.  Leaving the senior man in great difficulty.  Who would want to move in with a man who clearly had some physical health problems?  The man, already stressed with his health issues is currently looking or alternative accommodation.  As many would know, it is not an easy task and so far no solution has been found.  He cannot afford the rent on his own.

Stories about accessing public housing are most discouraging.  There appears to be long waiting lists for such housing.  It is not easy to find accommodation for seniors, unless you have a healthy bank balance.

Do take care when choosing to share.  Make sure you have a good agreement with the other person, and be clear in what is expected of each of you.

(If you are interested in Shared Housing, check out Facebook or Dr Google for sites that assist with sharing.)