real life

"They also love to party." Jo sees a side of senior Australians some people never get to.

Freedom Care Communities
Thanks to our brand partner, Freedom Care Communities

“Our residents love food, music and wine,” says Jo Lee, the lifestyle co-ordinator at Freedom Tanah Merah , around 20 minutes’ drive from the Brisbane CBD.

“That’s a side of senior Australians I see every day – but some people never get to.”

People like Jo exist because the social lives of older people are important, something which isn’t always visible.

With our increasingly busy lives, it’s difficult to take on the role of social coordinator for our older loved ones, especially if they have diminished independence and access to peers.

Being able to offer residents the freedom to enjoy what they love is the reason why Jo Gets so much satisfaction from her job.

“It’s great that Freedom Care Communities invests in their residents’ total fulfilment by not looking after just their practical and medical needs, but their happiness, too,” Jo tells Mamamia.

“There’s a lifestyle co-ordinator in every community, because they know it’s certainly not a case of our residents coming here and no longer valuing getting as much as they can out of life.

“In fact, this is their time to enjoy as much as possible, because everything else is taken care of for them here. They can continue entertaining friends, but try new things, too, or be alone and read in the garden.”

Watch: Jo’s daily life as a lifestyle co-ordinator. Post continues after video.

These lifestyle co-ordinators are integral in helping senior Australians foster active social lives, encouraging interaction among those who want more connection by creating a new calendar of events each fortnight.

It’s about the chance for everyone to live the life they want – and giving them choices.

These choices can be as social or as private as residents desire, and can include light exercise (mobility, yoga and morning walking groups), indoor or outdoor bowls, aqua aerobics, arts and crafts,  billiards, card games and board games, themed dinners and happy hours.

Jo, who has worked at Tanah Merah for five years, explains that she tries to offer a range of activities that’s as diverse as those whom she cares for.

“It’s about offering choice, and combating loneliness if that’s an issue,” she tells us. “Our residents love to play bingo – I think it is just because of the chocolates.

“They love indoor bowls – a bit of competition is healthy. [They love] putting on the golf-green, only three holes but big enough to be a challenge at times, and trivia is always a hit.

“They also love to party, so a function day here is pretty special and full of energy and love.”

Lauris and Julie join their mum at an event at Freedom Tanah Merah

Jo adds that there’s movie enthusiasts who “always front up for the matinee three times a week”, and that in summer, she does water aerobics with the group in the community pool at Freedom Tanah Merah.

“I love the interaction I get to have every day with the most amazing and interesting people,” Jo says. “I love that every day is different. I love that I can be a friend and confidante on the days when our residents just need a chat."

“I love the stories; although not all are happy and positive, they are all part of what makes them who they are. Our residents have taught me so much over the past five years and even today I am still learning; which I will never take for granted.

“It is not really a job – it is more of a passion really. There is nothing I enjoy more than seeing the joy and happiness in the eyes of the residents. It is a vocation to be honest, I can’t wait to get to the village every morning to see what difference I can make.”

The residents with dementia hold a special place in Jo’s heart, because she finds interaction with them so fulfilling.

“We have a ‘Memory Node’ program, where our residents who live with dementia have the opportunity to come and participate in activities which assist with their movement and memory,” Jo explains.  “Special moments for me are when a nonverbal resident actually says hello with a big smile.

“I also love receiving a hug for just being you, and when a resident will hand you a spoon and say, ‘would you like to try some of my cake?’

“Everyone here deserves to enjoy themselves – they’ve earned it.”

If you, your parent or grandparent want to know more about the freedom to live how you want and have 24/7 support, visit Freedom Care Communities' website for more information.

Feature image: Supplied.

Freedom Care Communities

"Live life your way
At Freedom, we encourage you to live life your way. Read a book in the garden, relax at home, join in the many social activities in the community, invite friends and family to lunch or welcome the grandkids to stay. The Choice is yours.
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