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By Shane Hayes, Director of Family Aged Care Advocates

The daily grind of a job working for an over-bearing boss, or is it a family or financial

problem, a traumatic life-event, or the fear of getting older can force us to sit down and

really think about the meaning of life. Why are we here? What is our purpose? What do we

want to be known and remembered for? What makes us smile?

We move through our life stages from carefree kid, to teenage school years, to our working

years, to finding a partner and (maybe) having a family and watching them grow into adults,

to finishing up work moving into retirement and then onto our “third life” elderly years. At

each of these stages our purpose and priorities in life can, and often does, change.

Some feel comfortable with these life transitions. It’s not unusual for someone to be

struggling to find and implement a meaningful life. You don’t walk this path alone.

The theory ...

Psychologist Abraham Maslow talked about finding purpose as a key human need and that

getting clear on your purpose starts with what you do ... the activities that fill your day. Get

clear on what these activities are, then practice and do them consistently. Build good life


Others have written that finding true purpose in life is about building three (3) “big rocks” in

your life by finding: (1) something to do; (2) something to love; and (3) something to hope


The findings ...

About 10 years ago, the then UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, wanted to get a better

idea about well-being in the population. The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing was a

study that he turned to. It’s a comprehensive study looking at multiple things to do with

work, retirement, health, and social activity to name a few. In a nutshell, it identifies what

happens to people as they age.

One of the key findings to-date was that people involved in the study who were doing

“worthwhile” activities in their life (as understood by the researchers over the years through

constant checking-in and asking questions) were generally healthier, had less pain, had

developed fewer illnesses and diseases, were sleeping better, generally happier and overall

satisfied with their lives.

Another very interesting and important finding from the research is that “social engagement and activity” at older ages is very critical to health and well-being. Prosocial activities contribute to people feeling that their life is worthwhile and that they have valuable things going on in their lives. Those people who become isolated and who don’t maintain regular contact with other people are more likely to “age” more rapidly. The incidence of isolation and loneliness is sadly on the increase leading many health experts to claim this as a “silent killer” of many people.

How does aged care fit in?

Many people want to live in their own homes (or a “downsized” home) for as long as they

possibly can, maintaining their independence and control over their lives.

However, with ageing can come reduced movement and mobility. Those day-to-day chores

around the home just get that little bit harder and uncomfortable to manage and do.

That’s where the Government steps in with their “home help funded programs.” People can

work with aged care providers to bring help and assistance into the home. Along with

nursing-in-the-home services, this type of help may be assistance with house cleaning, food

preparation or delivery and lawn mowing. These are the most common that we see. All are

great help for those that need them.

However, what we don’t see happen anywhere near enough is people asking for help to

participate in social engagement activities. These can be as big or as small as your

imagination. It might be travel assistance to attend a club or organisation, someone to walk

with along the beach or in a park, a therapeutic massage to give better movement or

mobility, meeting with people to sing in a choir or a book club or a men’s shed. Or you

might just want someone to talk to ... simple as that.

The options are endless and typically very individualised to each person. The research shows

that if these social engagement activities are wanted and are able to be done – they are

beneficial to people’s health, well-being and happiness.

It’s time for the aged care industry to do something different ... start to challenge the status

quo and stop hiding behind the (written ... and often unwritten) rules. Rules don’t have to

be “broken.” However the rules can be ever so slightly “bent” or “reshaped” to help people

as they age to live a meaningful life ... and one of purpose.

How Family Aged Care Advocates fit in ...

That’s where Family Aged Care Advocates can step in. We provide guidance and support to

families by identifying the relevant options to help you make informed decisions to get the

best care outcomes for yourself or the people you love and care for most. We’re

independent aged care specialists who do this type of work everyday and we’re only

interested in the right outcomes for you and your family.

Visit Family Aged Care Advocates


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