As we get older, it can be difficult to come to terms with needing support to maintain our health and wellbeing. Keeping our independence becomes a top priority, something Gordon knows very well after he was confronted with the challenges of admitting he needed a little extra help.
Gordon has led an exciting life, working as a lawyer and magistrate, ABC radio announcer and TV presenter, and writing several books. When he retired 10 years ago, he never thought of looking into aged care services.
“It sort of crept up on me,” he says. “I wasn’t really aware of it. It started when I was walking down the street and the tree roots had lifted the footpath. I tripped and ended up in hospital. From there it became clear that I was not lifting my feet.”
He began to suffer from fainting spells and was diagnosed with low blood pressure and muscular myopathy, which makes it difficult for Gordon to get up if he falls down.
“I had a fall in my room and I was able to help myself up – but it happened again in the night, when my wife Susan was in the other room. I couldn’t do it. I refused to call Susan on this one, and I had carpet burns all over my legs.”
Gordon decided it was time to seriously consider his options. With the help and recommendations of his GP, he was able to make some in-home modifications that have provided peace of mind.
This process has also made Gordon more open to and aware of all the services that are designed to help him and Susan maintain their independence in their own home. In fact, they have begun to investigate the government’s My Aged Care portal as a preliminary step.
“I’m far less worried about that now,” Gordon says. “If we need it, we can put our hands out for assistance. Service providers show you this is normality and there are things to be done to help.”
Along with accepting help when it’s needed, Gordon has also recognised the need to look after himself, visiting a podiatrist to make sure his feet are in good health and taking extra care when getting up from the table to avoid trips.
“The biggest shock was not being able to get up when I fall down – it really hurts. Apart from the falls, which have knocked my confidence, it has been a step-by-step process. You just make adjustments as you go along. And keep laughing!”