‘Living well, ageing well’ #1: The power of attitude

By HBH - 15 October 2018

‘Living well, ageing well’ #1: The power of attitude

Enjoying old age takes good planning, good support and a great attitude, says HBH Senior Living CEO, Bonnie Robinson. Bonnie believes it’s important to plan ahead, not just for the ‘young-old’ years but also for ‘what happens next?’

“When most of us think about retirement, we tend to think about the ‘young-old’ years – from 65 to around 80 or so,” explains Bonnie. “We don’t tend to think about what would happen if we live to 90 or 100 – and what we want to get out of that stage of life.”

These days, the number of people living into their 90s or even into their 100s is growing rapidly. What’s more, it’s inevitable that the longer you live, the higher your chance of having some sort of health or disability issue. That’s why Bonnie believes it’s crucial to ask yourself ‘what strategies do I need to enjoy life and what’s my attitude going to be?’

It can be a real challenge for people to stay positive if they do have health issues. “It is normal to grieve for the things you have lost,” says Bonnie. But she believes that this is where attitude comes in to play. “For example, being told you can’t drive any more is upsetting, but you can either stay at home feeling sad or you can think, “okay, I can’t do that, but what else can I do? Sure, you’ll have to plan a bit more and be more reliant on others, but you can still get out there and enjoy life.”

The other thing that can really help is to learn to accept support. “Independence can be overrated,” says Bonnie. “Independence isn’t about having no support, it’s about continuing to have a say in your life. I suggest to many older people that they just get the support they need to lead a good life. If you need a walker and it means you can be more mobile and get out more, then get one, embrace it.”

The beauty of the environment at HBH Senior Living is that residents are supported with the help they need to have a great life. “Some people fight the idea of living in a retirement village or care facility, but there’s no point sitting at home alone all day. It’s about giving yourself permission to try new things – you never know, you may just find that you enjoy it!”

“The Eden Alternative (which is a key part of HBH’s philosophy of care) provides a fantastic framework for older people to think about what they want out of life. It’s based on the pillars of ‘companionship, connection, meaning and purpose’ – the things that make life worth living,” says Bonnie. “Our job is to help our residents find those things in their older lives.”

The ‘Virtual Village’ concept currently being explored by HBH Senior Living will also make a difference to older people in the Howick community. “The Virtual Village is all about older people in the community overcoming loneliness by supporting each other, creating connection and purpose, and using the skills they’ve gained in a lifetime. It’s also about giving back – because if you’re helping others, then no-one is completely dependent.”

‘’Living well, ageing well’ is a series of articles profiling the lives and sharing the stories of HBH Senior Living’s residents, staff and families, and the ‘life lessons’ they’ve learned along the way.

Lisa Waldren