Dementia care begins at home

Dementia care begins at home

Around the globe, one new case of dementia is diagnosed every three seconds. There are currently 14.8 million people worldwide living with dementia.

While the population continuing to age rapidly, international research show that, for people to age positively and well – and prevent the onset of dementia, staying connected with family, friends and community is vital.

The annual Victorian Seniors Festival is a great example of the power of participation. The festival offers a range of great opportunities to stay connected – helping physical and mental health, and social connectedness. And for families and carers with loved ones living with dementia, the festival also offers expert advice with nurses on hand at the Melbourne Town Hall RDNS (Royal District Nursing Service) Healthy Pit Stop from Monday 5-9 October.

RDNS Australian dementia expert, Fleur O’Keefe, reminds us that quality dementia care can still start at home. Fleur is the Senior Clinical Nurse Advisor (Aged Care/Dementia) at the RDNS. She has two Masters Degrees in different aspects of Aged Care and has worked with RDNS, specialising in in-home care for people with dementia, for more than 11 years.

“The wonderful community service RDNS offers enables us to keep up continuity of contact with our clients, so not only do we have the opportunity for very personal care, we are also ideally placed to see what kind of approaches can work for different kinds of people, where it matters most – in their own homes,” she says.

In all the thousands of dementia clients she has looked after, Fleur says that no two cases are identical.

“We might visit someone who can shop but can’t manage their medication, we might see a client who has very few visitors but says they are not lonely while they can look out their front window, we see people who are functioning very well in one area but not in another,” she says. “Each case is so different and has to be respected as such.”

As the role of carers becomes more important in dementia cases, Fleur believes that we all – individuals, partners, children, neighbourhoods and communities – have a part to play.

“Everyone should keep an eye on an older relative or friend, especially if they live on their own. Ask them questions like: How are you feeling? What’s happening in your life? What do you need help with? That way, people are best placed to get help early and have the best chance for best quality of life into the future.”

Fleur explains that the RDNS approach is to ask what people with dementia can do and to make the most of that individual situation.

RDNS places great priority on the implementation of what they call the Active Service Model. Their focus is on key components of capacity building or restorative care to maintain or promote a person’s ability to live as independently as possible; to improve functional independence, quality of life and social participation; a holistic ‘person-centred’ approach to care; and working with people to explore what their goals are to help maximise independence and tailor support accordingly. Dementia is a multi-factorial disease and we need a range of approaches to tackle it. We need to look at preventative measures such as diet, exercise, connectedness where we can, try to get an early diagnosis where possible and help people, as best we can in their own homes, to give them the support and care they need,” she adds.

Research tells us that participation is also important to ageing well. The annual Victorian Seniors Festival offers a range of great opportunities to stay connected and involved by grabbing some friends, participating and having some fun. Now in full swing, the 2015 Victorian Seniors Festival will run right across Victoria for the whole of October with a jam-packed program featuring more than 1300 free or low-cost events, promising something for everyone.

For more information on RDNS services, go to

To plan your involvement in this year’s Victorian Seniors Festival, pick up a program from any Coles supermarket, local council or neighbourhood house or find out more by visiting the Seniors Online website at

October 12, 2015   No Comments

Volunteer Students bridge generation gap

An aged care residence is not your typical hang-out place for teenage boys.  However for Parade College student Chris Hides, spending time with seniors at Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH) aged care in Bundoora is the highlight of his school week.

Chris, aged 16, is one of hundreds of Parade College students who have volunteered their time to make a positive difference to the lives of seniors at VMCH for over 20 years. Their efforts will be celebrated as part of National Student Volunteer Week (August 3-9).

The aged care setting was an unfamiliar one for Chris before he began volunteering last term. “I didn’t really know what I was going into,” Chris admits, “but it was a really great experience.  I couldn’t have asked for a better place to do it at.  The staff and residents were so nice and welcoming.”

Chris said spending time with residents during arts and crafts, completing the quiz in the paper, playing bocce and just having a chat about the footy over a cup of tea had been a “special experience”. 

“It was a good opportunity to connect with the older community and gain a different perspective and see how they live on a daily basis.  We spoke about their past, which was sometimes sad, but it was nice to hear their stories.  I think going there made them happier, and me happy too actually.”

Parade College teacher Darrell Cruse said the intergenerational experience gave the boys a “healthy respect for the older generation. The boys also get the opportunity to use their skills in areas such as music, magic and storytelling to entertain residents. They really do grow up from their time working with the residents.  The sense of responsibility is something they take very seriously.”

VMCH Volunteer Services Manager Bronwyn Summers said National Student Volunteer Week was a great time to acknowledge the positive difference made by students who regularly visited VMCH sites.

“It gives students an appreciation of the values of the older generation and they learn that ageing is a natural part of life.  The visits also allow the residents to relate to another generation, learn about new technology, current trends and even the latest news of the day such as what football team is on top of the ladder,” Bronwyn said. “When the residents see the world through younger eyes it can make a huge difference to their day and brings much happiness, therefore alleviating the risk of loneliness and isolation.”

Bundoora resident Barry Smith said: “I’m happy to see the students come in to help.  They’re really good kids.”

August 10, 2015   No Comments

Glenroy Grannies Netball Team

The original team members of this highly successful group started playing in their late 20’s and early 30’s and are currently in their late 60’s and early 70’s. The team formed in 1970 and has been competing for 45 years. Originally the team was entered in the Northern Ladies Netball Association in 1970. Currently it competes in the Broadmeadows Netball Association  Competition on Monday and Thursday nights against 0pen Age players.

They have travelled to Fiji nine times, Malaysia three times as well as the Cook Islands and Singapore to play in tournaments. The Grannies have never missed a netball season in 45 years of playing together. Each year there are two netball seasons that span from February to December.

Their accomplishments both in Australia and Overseas are too numerous to mention but include gold medals at masters championships and either winning or being finalists in almost all of the visits overseas.

On a personal note the team have 32 children, 65 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren between them. Formerly known as “GLENROY’ the team became the “GLENROY GRANNIES” after their young children attended the games and would call out ‘come on you old Grannies.”

Maree Wilson, one of the original members underwent a triple bypass in 0ctober 200l only to return to the team five months later.

Eleanor Castle received the Sporting Achievement Award and Medal in 2000 for her services to netball over the past 50 years.

Most team members whether they have recently joined the team or not, have played netball for many years and enjoy team holidays together every year.


These ladies have played netball together for 45 years

Beryl Paterson (Captain) 72 years

Maree Wilson 72years

Lorraine  Castledine 70 years (retired to Carrum Downs but travels to Broadmeadows every Monday night to play.)

And Yvonne LeMaistre (deceased 2010) 71 years.

These two ladies have played with the team for 40 years

Fay Merson 71 years

Joan Guest 73 years (Joan has had knee replacement surgery

These ladies joined the Grannies in 1994 for the World Master Games in Queensland but were playing with opposition teams for many years.

Yvonne Sutton 71 years

Carol Pittard 67 years

Veronica Dovey 77 years

Eleanor Castle 75 years (now retired to Hastings and is an Emergency player.)

These women are an inspiration not only because of their sports prowess but their continued friendships both there and with their overseas opponents that have spanned decades and oceans. What wonderful role models!

July 1, 2015   No Comments

Research Reveals Workers must be barking mad to leave pets at home

The thought of leaving pets at home during a long day at work can cause anxiety for many pet owners, but now, thanks to one initiative, businesses are being urged to consider the enormous health and wellbeing benefits to both pets and employees of bringing furry colleagues to the office.

Through its Pets At Work initiative, Nestlé Purina PetCare is proud to be at the forefront of the movement calling for an increased number of pet-friendly workplaces nationwide.  And, with latest research showing stress levels dropped by 11% for staff who brought their dog into work compared with an increase of 70% for those who did not, along with increased productivity overall, Nestlé Purina PetCare is encouraging more businesses to join them.

Alongside its Pets At Work initiative, Nestlé Purina PetCare is proud to be encouraging businesses to be pet-friendly and is excited to be participating in Pet Sitters International ‘Take Your Dog to Work Day’ this Friday June 26th.

Purina Country Business Manager, Lal Meyer, is excited to be leading the call for more pet-friendly offices: “At Purina we know that people and pets are ‘better together’ and we’ve always supported having pets at work as we believe it helps enormously with promoting a healthy work-life balance for staff. Pets at work not only bring joy to the office but I’ve seen first hand how they help with staff productivity.”

Similarly, Animal Behaviourist Expert, Dr Jo Righetti, is hoping more offices will see the benefits of pets at work: “Taking your pet to work, even if it’s just occasionally – like on Take Your Dog To Work Day – is a way to help both owner and pet. Owners feel less guilty, pets enjoy the company and other employees benefit from the contact with the pet.”

To avoid any ‘cat-strophes’ or dog-lemmas’, owners can take solace in this helpful guide to bringing man’s best friend to work: to share your story, join the conversation with #PetsAtWork.

June 25, 2015   No Comments

Robert Bolch JP – The 1000th Man


This is not a reference to Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The 1000th Man” but to Bob who has attended the Police Station Document Signing Station 1002 times and processed 183,959 documents since August 2005. Robert (Bob) was appointed as a JP in Victoria on August 3rd 2004 and within a year had set up the Frankston DSS with the assistance of 26 local JPs. The Frankston Document Signing Station operates all week days and Saturday mornings and is serviced by 10 JPs who process approximately 5,500 documents a month.

As he is also a JP Qualified in QLD Bob is the Victorian representative for the Queensland Justices Association, the co-ordinator of the Frankston DSS and founder of the 100 club. The 100 club is restricted to those JPs who have attended DSS in Division 4 a minimum of 100 times. The Chief Commissioner of Police, Ken Lay presented two members with their framed certificates at a recent visit to Frankston Headquarters, they being Vishnu Prasad and Bob Seiffert. Bob was surprised at that same meeting to be presented with a “Citizen Commendation” for Conspicuous & Exemplary Voluntary Public Service to the Community and Victoria Police. This is the highest commendation the Chief Commissioner can award a member of the public.

A volunteer with the Youth Referral Independent Person Programme (YRIPP) another legal programme that Bob is involved in. This programme is specifically for suspected young offenders who are being interviewed by the police and their parent or guardian has been unable or reluctant to attend the interview.

Apart from working in the legal arena Bob has been involved in many other volunteer organisations.

Other interests include, Civil Engineering Representative on AutoGAD Industry Standards User Group; is a San (3) Dan JuJitsu Master and Owner/Sensei (Chief Instructor) of two JuJitsu Dojo (Clubs). Bob said “one of my highlights in 28 years in Martial Arts was the appointment of one of my Black Belt students, Adrian Strath; as chairman of The Martial Arts Council of Victoria”.

One of his great loves is in working with canines which found him very involved in canine activities. Bob is a member of the Victorian Agricultural Society (Dog division) & was foundation secretary – Bull Terriers Club of Victoria 1975, Bob holds a Recognition of Merit (ROM) Judge – Bull Terriers. As a Life Member, President of the dog club Bob visited the UK in 1985 as an Australian representative.

Bob has curtailed his involvement in canine activities, handing in his dog judging licence in 2015, he is now content to walk his Staffordshire Bull Terrier, as he says “We both need the exercise”.

Bob said, “Without the assistance of my wife Shirley over 54 years, I could not have done any of this work”.

A maxim Bob has endeavoured to live by is accredited to Stephen Grellet

I expect to pass through this world but once

Any good deed or any kindness

That i can do for my fellow man

Let me do it now

Let me not defer it or neglect it

For i shall not pass this way again.

June 2, 2015   No Comments

Marvellous Millie

Benetas St George’s resident Mildred ‘MillieAndrewis used to giving not taking. Mrs Andrew, who turned 100 this year, recently received a great honour when she was awarded with an Order of Australia medal (OAM) for her service to children with disabilities.

The award was presented by Governor-General Peter Cosgrove behalf of Her Majesty the Queen at Parliament house in Melbourne.

It all began when Mrs Andrew offered to look after her friend’s son who had a disability in 1945, while her friend was in hospital. As the boy had cerebral palsy, his mother often needed to take him to the children’s hospital. It was there that other mothers learnt of this ‘Marvellous Millie’ who offered to look after her son when she needed a break. Soon Mrs Andrew was receiving dozens of calls from weary mothers of children with disabilities who were calling out for her help.

“Sometimes I had five or six children staying at my house while their mothers took much needed breaks” said Mrs Andrew.

It got to the point where Mrs Andrew had so many children to look after that she needed more space. She connected with the Footscray Lions club who helped her raise enough money to build a purpose built centre in Seddon. After tireless fundraising involving rattling tins outside the football club, bingo and fetes, Mrs Andrew raised enough money to gradually pay for speech therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists to help the children.

“We even got the kids to do some packaging work, it wasn’t much but at least they could earn a few shillings. There wasn’t any government assistance in those days so we had to raise the money ourselves” Mrs Andrew said.

Mrs Andrew had children at the centre five days per week. After raising enough funds to buy a bus for the centre, the local fire brigade heard of the wonderful work she was doing for families in the area and the firemen picked up the children from their homes in the morning and dropped them home at the end of the day.

When Mrs Andrew retired after 35 years there were 80 children and their families being looked after by ‘Marvellous Millie’ at the centre. The organisation which is now known as ‘Scope Chislon Centre’, (formerly known as the Footscray Spastic Children’s Centre) still operates supporting children and adults with disabilities in the community.

Mrs Andrew attended the OAM presentation with her proud Daughter Susan and Granddaughter Sharon.

“I got my satisfaction from all of the joy and pleasure of the children and their families. “I am very proud of the medal and I am thankful. Today I am lucky to have my health and my health is my wealth”

Humble Mrs Andrews said she didn’t know if she really deserved the medal. “I guess I know what I did, and that is a great satisfaction to me. I still have to pinch myself to believe it’s true”, Mrs Andrew said

May 4, 2015   No Comments

NT Beauty Showcased in Melbourne

Bronzed Brolga Garden Fittingly Wins Bronze for the NT

Northern Territory garden placed at Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show

MELBOURNE, March 25: A taste of the Northern Territory was the highlight on the menu at Melbourne’s International Flower & Garden Show (MIFGS) today, winning Bronze with its Bronzed Brolga display.

The NT show garden, which took out the Bronze Medal in the Show Garden category, is a true sample of the NT with its rich ochre colours, natural rocks, lush plants, red desert sand and rainforest pool. The garden’s name was inspired by the bronze brolgas which adorn the shallows of its lagoon.

Chief Minister Adam Giles, Minister for Tourism, said Bronzed Brolga is designed to show locals and international travellers who are yet to visit the region just what they’re missing.

“With many Aussie travellers intending to do the NT ‘one day,’ we knew it was time to give them a snapshot of the beauty the NT has to offer with MIFGS’ first Northern Territory garden.”

He added: “The garden aims to bring a touch of the Territory’s diverse and distinctive landscape to life, showing potential visitors why they should be making their NT dream a reality.”

Designer of the NT garden, Brent Reid, said the Bronzed Brolga display was inspired by the contrast between the Territory’s Top End and Red Centre in particular.

“We aimed to ignite the emotions of the Territory and its complexities through a split down the middle of the garden to reflect the NT’s lush rainforest on one side and its arid desert landscape on the other.”

The garden also featured a shelter made from sustainably sourced cypress timber and natural materials, watering holes and a waterfall that cascades off a natural stone wall.

MIFGS, celebrated its 20th anniversary, showcasing world class landscape designs and floral exhibits, and was expected to draw more than 110,000 visitors this year.

April 3, 2015   No Comments

Friendships Sealed with PARO

Sitting in her favourite armchair in the sunshine at Aurrum Brunswick, an elderly lady gently stroked the fluffy white fur of the creature in her lap. She spoke softly to it and in return, the creature lifted its head and made friendly, almost lifelike sounds in return.

She had made a new friend – in the form of PARO, a robotic baby harp seal. PARO is described by its inventor, Dr Takanori Shibata as “a therapeutic companion robot, designed to improve sociability and communication between patients and caregivers.”

“A seal was chosen because no one has a preconceived idea of how a seal should behave – unlike cats and dogs” says Dr. Shibata.

PARO is a robot seal covered in pure white synthetic fur with built-in intelligence providing psychological, physiological, and social effects through physical interaction with humans. Inside are two 23-bit CPUs (central processing units), which can process voice recognition and imitate animal behaviour, enabling PARO to develop its own character. PARO has five different types of sensors over the body that allows it to perceive people and the environment, and respond to touch, light, sound, temperature and posture.

Weighing about the same as a newborn baby, PARO has the ability to learn new words and remember the voices different people. At Aurrum Brunswick alone, PARO is regularly spoken to in Greek and Italian as well as English.

PARO has been proven as a stimulating and engaging tool for dementia sufferers all over the world. There are over 300’000 people in Australia living with dementia, with that number expected to rise significantly over the next decade, so the introduction of PARO to the Australian market is great news for family members and carers of dementia patients.

John’s 65 year old mother is a resident at Aurrum Reservoir and he says since being introduced to PARO, his mother is happier than ever. “When I saw her this morning, I left the room for about five minutes and when I came back in to sit with her she said ‘Are you still here? I’ve got my PARO now – I don’t need you anymore!’” he says laughing. “Whenever PARO is around the smile on her face is just beautiful. She gets excited. She’s happy.”

Aurrum is planning to make use of PARO across all of its sites in Victoria and New South Wales. “We wanted to take part in a good quality initiative,” says Area General Manager, Glenda Walker.

Not only is PARO extremely practical and therapeutic for people with dementia, research has also shown that it alleviates the symptoms of people who suffer from depression and anxiety and in some cases even reduces the need for medication.

PARO was developed in 1993 by Dr Takanori Shibata and officially released commercially in Japan in 2005. In 2009 PARO was introduced to Europe, with Denmark at the forefront of adopting this innovative technology. “I’ve been working on a few different kinds of PARO, each designed for specific purposes. For example, this PARO here is great therapy for elderly people, especially those suffering with dementia.” Dr. Shibata says.

“In the cases for children with autism or Down Syndrome, I’ve been developing a PARO that can be used to train children in social skills. There are also ones in development to deal specifically with developmental problems and psychological problems.”

Professor Peter Disler is an accomplished senior physician and academic at the University of Melbourne and has seen the positive effects of PARO first hand in his work with Aurrum. “I know as well as anyone how difficult it is to deal with the behavioural side of things with people with dementia.” He says. “There’s so many electronic devices nowadays, that memory is becoming largely irrelevant. But behaviour is a real challenge, and whatever we have to improve it, is good. Through my observations, I’ve found an improvement in behaviour and satisfaction amongst residents and a generally high acceptance of PARO. I think it’s a fantastic thing.”

View source article:

March 5, 2015   No Comments

Still Sculpting after 50 Years

Prolific 80-year-old Yarra Glen Man of Steel, still sculpting after fifty years.

Ernst Fries, one of Australia’s most celebrated and awarded sculptors staged a retrospective exhibition on his property and gallery Linden Gate at Yarra Glen during January.

Conveniently, the still-active craftsman has ten acres to display his prolific works going back fifty years, though a number of his large, impressive stained glass and stainless steel sculptures are situated in churches, at the Melbourne Magistrates court,  Mckenzie Park in Yarra Glen and multiple international, national and regional galleries and private collections. His output is in the thousands.

It is no surprise that Ernst still works full time in his expansive and well-equipped studio/workshop with views of the valley, vineyards and mountain views.

From the age of seven until eleven Ernst grew up (or survived) under the Nazis in the small German historic town of Würzburg. He saw too much death and destruction for anyone. In the last weeks of the war, hundreds of thousands of bombs razed the once decorative town.

Ever since, each day has been a bonus for Ernst and he has made the most of every moment. Despite a ‘dicky’ knee, he is in his workshop every day and has numerous projects on the go. He even found time to complete a Masters in Fine Arts in 2010, based on “Light Colour and Spatiality through the medium of Delle De Verre glass.

This engaging father-of-six, craftsman trained as a jeweller/goldsmith in Zurich before arriving with his Swiss wife, Rosmarie in 1959. After overcoming the shock of Bonegilla (migrant camp), the culture-shocked couple moved to Melbourne. To support his growing family he initially took on the job as a water and sewerage designer. To cope with the mundane work, in the evenings he would work until midnight on his art.

Ernst enjoys the challenge of working with precision on large geometrical sculptures. His silver, goldsmith background and engineering studies are evident in the meticulous design he takes with every commission. His sculptures can be up to six metres high and seem to defy gravity in cantilevered positions, some engaging the wind as an interactive element and refracting the light. Commissions often involve stainless steel and Dalle de Verre (stained glass), concrete, rare timbers, resin and sensory lights.

Visitors to Art at Linden Gate Gallery will see a cross-section of five decades of Ernst Fries’ diverse work in all shapes, sizes and materials. One of the standouts is a bronze head of a newly arrived migrant. The look on the face is one of terror and confusion, tinged with hope; feelings Ernst and his late wife shared when they landed in this far away mysterious land fifty five years ago.

They will also see Ernst’s handy work as a builder on doors, windows, walls, balustrades and even the B&B accommodation. It seems everything he touches turns to art; a rich legacy indeed. For more information regarding Ernst’s art or the artistic accommodation see

February 1, 2015   No Comments

Season’s Greetings

Hi Everyone,

Well what a year it has been! This combined December/January issue comes to you a few weeks from Christmas and I hope you enjoy it. For me the year has been challenging but immensely enjoyable and I have loved every contact from you the wonderful readers of Fifty Plus News. Your overwhelming positive response to the change of ownership and the changes that have been made along the way have buoyed my spirits. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

To the wonderful regular advertisers I also send my heartfelt thanks. Coming on board with a new owner, and new to the industry, these people are the unsung heroes of Fifty Plus. Without them it wouldn’t exist. I ask you to support these wonderful people and businesses wherever possible.

All the new advertisers over the year who have come on board thank you. The Fifty Plus name and brand is growing and an ever increasing group of new advertisers are finding us and enjoying positive results, certainly a great situation for both them and Fifty Plus.

As we head into Summer I urge you all to take care around water. Given the statistics from last year which saw an increase in those over 50 losing their lives when swimming or boating, please take care out there.

I would like to thank Len, the wonderful guide we had on the walk through of the Urban Koorie Tour I attended in November. His passion for his culture and the wish to share it with everyone was infectious. I learned so much from him and recommend the tour to everyone. That’s Len on the front cover.

2015 will see some more positive changes coming our way with the addition of social media and an updated website. I’m really looking forward to catching up with more of you in the New Year as I have been firmly chained to the desk this year.

To everyone out there, no matter your faith or belief, I wish you and your families a wonderful and safe festive season. May 2015 be filled with peace and happiness for all. Watch out for Fifty Plus in February.



December 4, 2014   No Comments