Hard truths about growing old you should be thinking about while you are young

Bernice helps Mrs Pat Rogers with her nails while Mrs Peggy Wolfe and Mr Freitag look on.

That growing old is a privilege denied to many is undeniably true, yet increases in life expectancy due to improved medical care and technological advances mean people live longer than they did a few generations before.

Sister Audrey Lieberum, Matron of Pinetown Nursing Home’s care facility has spent the last 17 years caring for the elderly. She believes many people don’t think about the reality of growing old and this leaves them unprepared for it.


Connie Mulcahy.


I need all the preservatives I can get while I’m young!

The young sometimes joke that they are eating lots of preservatives to keep their bodies preserved for old age, but the truth is bad lifestyle choices with regards to eating habits and dietary choices can have implications for the future management of chronic health conditions.

Sister Lieberum and her team at Pinetown Nursing Home assist those in her care monitor and manage a range of conditions like blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol.

“People get into bad habits through a long life of bad practices,” she said. Once the chronic conditions become a problem it is too late to learn good habits. “People think they will be healthy forever, or they rely on a partner and then find themselves unable to cope when they are alone.”


Sister Audrey Lieberum, Matron of Pinetown Nursing Home.


Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most

Growing less able to remember things and developing a loss of cognitive ability is a double-edged sword all too many people experience as they grow older but few anticipate when considering retirement options. Pinetown Nursing Home is in the process of equipping itself to cope with these conditions. “In the past, we used to find people who had come into the home developed these conditions,” said Sister Lieberum.

“There aren’t many places that take in people who already have conditions like Alzheimer’s and we don’t like to have to send people away when they have grown used to us and are happy here.”  

She believes the need to maintain the best quality of life possible and help keep people active and as far as possible in charge of their own choices is important. “People lose so much as they grow older as it is, we want to allow them to keep their will and ability to make choices.”


A day in the life at a nursing home

Staff work hard to maintain a friendly, welcoming environment where people can enjoy their day, taking on more than just their usual duties of care, focusing on a holistic approach, incorporating body, mind and soul… and even a little fun and aesthetics too.

Residents enjoy time spent with each other and with the support staff. From a manicure while waiting for a chat to the nurse on duty, to the companionship of a caring hand when you are feeling scared after a dizzy spell.

“I have an amazing team of dedicated staff here,” said Sister Lieberum.

There are routines and activities, and time for reflection, and social interaction, but most importantly of all there is a sense of community and caring which provides the medium for the occasional miracle to take place.


Sister Lieberum with the ever smiling Mrs Helen Duckworth


No one left behind

One such miracle is Mrs Duckworth who, following a stroke, was in a coma. “Her daughter sensed there was hope and felt she might be able to come out of it,” said Sister Lieberum, introducing me to one of her patients.

“Today she is sitting up, talking and reading,” said the beaming matron, as they posed for a picture together both admitted theirs was a story which should be seen as a miracle. “It took time and effort and dedication but seeing results like this make all the work worth it,” said Sister Lieberum.


Find out how Pinetown Hursing Home can help you find what you need for your loved one. Contact them on 031 702 3030 or email to ask for more info about their facilities.

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