After the coronavirus pandemic led to the closure of businesses across Victoria, Lucy Sison of Aspendale in Melbourne’s southeastern suburbs was made redundant in her job. Since losing her job in March, Lucy has entered a new positive phase in her life as a carer for two elderly family members living with her: her mother Nanay Rosa, aged 86, as well as her sister-in-law Manang Luz, aged 75.
Lucy utilises her newly developed skills in various cooking styles, cake decorating, hairdressing, succulent making and gardening, involving her two loved ones in any way they can to improve their wellbeing and boost their quality of life.
The two seniors enjoy a wide range of activities, including a recent succulent workshop conducted by Joy Buhler of JoyB Plants Melbourne which was held in their own home. Tasks are selected to help maintain their cognitive activity. “Nanay Rosa has dementia and building blocks and identifying colour are among her therapies,” says Lucy.
Just prior to the pandemic, Manang Luz was planning to move into an aged care facility. “She refused to stay in a nursing home because of COVID,” says Lucy. This is a decision they do not regret, as they are aware that families have been unable to visit their loved ones in aged care facilities in recent months.
Lucy has taken a positive approach during the lockdown and says “you have to embrace it” rather than feel down or stressed about the restrictions under which Melburnians have lived. There are challenges as a carer, mostly in relation to her personal time. “They have a carer for four days a week from their Care Package, so I still have spare time for myself to do my shopping, gardening and my other activities,” she says.
Nanay Rosa is a member of the Pilipino Elderly Association of South East Region (PEASER), based in Clarinda, and joined the club almost 20 years ago in 2001. Nowadays during lockdown, Nanay Rosa receives wellbeing calls from other PEASER members to have a chat over the phone.
Lucy says she feels a high level of satisfaction of satisfaction in her early retirement, especially since she is now able to enjoy quality time with her elderly mother, as well as take care of her sister-in-law. When time allows, she takes the opportunity to learn new useful skills online, whether it is through webinars on Zoom, or video tutorials on YouTube, all at her own pace.
For Lucy, Nanay Rosa and Manang Luz, it has certainly been lockdown well spent at home.