Southport’s most whimsical aged care resident has finally found her home

I’ve never met anyone quite like Joan.

At 97, it seems like she’s done everything. Seen everything.

Running restaurants, working in antique shops, shoe shops, hairdressers, teaching at a young age, volunteering at art committees – the list goes on.

aged care resident joan sitting in her room with an ice cream cone on her birthday

“I drift into things. I don’t set out to do anything. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve done,” she says.

“I’ve had a pretty full life.”

“When I was young, I looked up at the stars and I thought ‘God, you’re up there. What am I supposed to do with my life?’ And I kind of got an answer. I felt, ‘Do what’s in front of you. Do what’s in front of you.’ And always there’s been something put in front of me.”

Even when she had gotten older and had attended aged care respite herself, she maintained that same outlook.

“I used to go to respite. I loved it there. I did, I loved it.”

But when Joan broke her hip, there wasn’t another time quite like it in her life.

‘I was pretty depressed because I had a big struggle to get walking again. It was really, really hard and painful. I wanted to go. I wanted to die. It was so painful. They kept moving me at night and it was agony. ‘Why don’t they let me go?’ But they didn’t. They gave me physio, did my exercises. Oh boy, that was a bad time. I didn’t want that.”

aged care resident joan celebrating her 97th birthday with balloons in her roomJoan recently celebrated her 97th birthday



But while the pain pushed her to her breaking point, aged care has been a blessing to Joan in the way that she’s been a blessing to others all her life.

“I was happy to come here and relax. I didn’t want to go home.”

“Noone at home, there on my own. I’ve been on my own for years.”

“I don’t feel lonely at all. The girls are so good and they come and give you a cuddle sometimes. The girls are so good. And I’ve made friends with them.”

“I play [cards] with 3 of the physios. They’re lovely.”

“They don’t bother you, you know. They just let you do what you want and what you can.”

“I read a lot. All my education is from books. I had a set of encyclopedias when I was a kid and I read them cover to cover. My dad bought me those.”

“I like thrillers. Murder mysteries.”

“I’m happy I’m still here.”

At 97, Joan has thought a lot about what comes next for her. But true to form, she’s sticking to what’s in front of her.

“I’m ready to go, I’m happy to go. I’m not religious, but I’ve got a close relationship with nature, with animals and people.”

“My father was what you would call an entrepreneur. He employed everyone in the town [in England], and they all called him squire.”

“He moved on. He never stuck with one thing, he was always doing something else.”

That’s Joan. Always moving onto the next great thing. Whether it’s playing cards with the physios or keeping an eye out in the home for everyone else, I'm pretty sure whatever happens, Joan will, wherever she is and whatever she’s doing, find exactly what she’s looking for.

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an aged care staff member walking through a garden with an aged care resident