Thoughts on seniors of different kinds

Feb 24, 2024
Source: Getty Images.

Buck is back. He looks older and more tired. I don’t know how you tell the age of a kangaroo, but if his scrawny haunches and his grunts as he lowers himself carefully onto the grass are any indication, he’s only a couple of hops away from macropod heaven.

He hadn’t been around for a couple of weeks so it was a surprise seeing him under my clothesline. Especially as I had a basketful of washing to hang up. But one look tells me he’s not happy. I can guess why. My mower man came yesterday and took it upon himself to mow extra short to try to keep control of the lawn’s rampant growth. So no lush green stalks of grass for Buck.

I’m not surprised to find him gone a few hours later. It makes me sad. I like to think my backyard is a haven for him in a world he probably sees as having gone crazy. He, like his mob of forty, can no longer call the paddock across the road “Home”. It’s now occupied by five excavators, four dump trucks, other machinery of various shapes and sizes, and two to three homes being built every week. It’s a gated Over Fifties Lifestyle Resort that will have all the requisite facilities (swimming pools, bowling green, clubhouse, arts and crafts rooms, etc) expected in a retirement village these days. But no big areas of grass. Or even small ones.

Buck and his mob have had to find another home. Unfortunately, the carnage on the road is evidence of those mob members who haven’t been able to get their minds around the fact that they can’t jump the high fences to what had been their home for millennia. Between farms and residential developments, there’s little land left for these native Australians here. I know that I’m also a contributing factor, with my average-size house on my quarter-acre block. I’m comforted by knowing that my gardens and trees at least provide shelter for many species of birds, lizards, possums, bandicoots, and our native Delicate mice. And an old kangaroo with arthritis.

My mother was lucky that the independent living units in her retirement village were set in spacious grassy areas with many shade trees, and each room in the nursing section where she spent her last few years had its own covered patio with a garden outlook. Actually, she was lucky the complex had low-care and high care nursing sections. So many of my friends have had to see their parents move to another town when their time came for this type of care.

Many of the retirement places being built these days are focussed on resort-style living, which is fine when you are in good health but, when illness or incapacity strikes, the chance of getting placed in a nursing home in the same area is slim to non-existent. A lot of people have to accept living in nursing homes far away from family and friends. The innumerable retirement “resorts” already existing in my region, as well as those being built, mean that the average age of our local population will keep rising, but little is being done to future-proof their welfare. I feel it’s very short-sighted of councils to approve these complexes when they don’t come with a nursing section, or even one factored into a future timeline. Yes, the houses are thoughtfully designed with wider hallways for wheelchair access and easily accessible showers and toilets, but it’s not always possible for a disabled or incapacitated person to stay in their own home, even if there is a loved one to help.

Hospitals are stretched to their limits, and aged care packages have a waiting list. It feels rather worrying for the future. I guess, like Buck, if we do reach the stage where we are no longer able to live without help, we hope that someone will provide a shady spot and sufficient food to keep us hopping along until the end.

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