Judy's Story

Making the most of the ageing experience

Pictured are participants from the Arts on Prescription fine arts program

For Judy, drama turned out to be just what the doctor prescribed.

At the Centre for Positive Ageing, nestled within the peaceful suburb of Hammondville, a small group of seniors are rehearsing for a drama performance.

When they started the program at the beginning of the term, hardly anyone in the group knew each other. But now, according to Judy, one of the program’s participants, they have become firm friends through the shared experience of putting on a show.

The drama class is part of Arts on Prescription, one of a number of programs run by HammondCare’s Centre for Positive Ageing.

Judy says the classes she experienced are not just an enjoyable addition to her routine; they have also helped her wellbeing by giving her opportunities for social interaction.

There are many terms out there to describe ageing, for example, ‘healthy’ ageing, ‘active’ ageing and ‘successful’ ageing. While the Centre for Positive Ageing agrees with many of these principles, the problem can be that people’s ageing experiences differ; often influenced by many of the curved balls life can throw us.

If you have reached older age and have a disabling condition or two, it doesn’t mean you weren’t ‘successful’ in the way you aged; or that you aren’t ‘healthy’ or ‘active’ enough.

‘Positive’ ageing is a different approach. While not everything about ageing is always positive – and reality shows us that this is not the case – positive ageing is centred on the idea that each one of us can take positive steps to shape and maximise our ageing experience.

The Centre for Positive Ageing has been established to be a thought leader in this space, and to develop and provide practical programs to help people age as well as they can – whatever their circumstances.

Judy, who participated in the Arts on Prescription program is one client who has benefited from the Centre’s positive approach. Four years ago, she suffered a stroke, and then went on to lose her husband of 50 years in a tragic car accident.

Since moving in with her daughter, Helen, Judy has started bi-weekly physiotherapy sessions with the Centre to improve her mobility. She has also participated in three Arts on Prescription programs: one in music and two in drama.

“It did me good because I think it gives me a bit of confidence,” says Judy. “You become more friendly with people through the classes, and it has given me more confidence talking to people.”

Currently the Centre is building momentum, with plans to implement web-based resources to help people understand the benefits of positive ageing; and practical research to build new knowledge around positive ageing.

HammondCare also plans to use the Centre’s learnings to help shape how our other services are delivered, especially our home and community-based services. As for Judy, what’s the best thing on the horizon at the Centre for Positive Ageing? She says it will be choosing her next Arts on Prescription program.

To learn more about the Centre of Positive Ageing, please click here

Arts on Prescription

Key principles underpinning the Centre for Positive Ageing approach include:

  • Helping people understand the difference between what is a normal part of ageing, and what we can do something about - including tackling ageist attitudes and not always attributing functional decline to ‘just getting old’.
  • Taking a holistic view of what it means to age well, and looking for ways to complement traditional healthcare – such as mental health and wellbeing, everyday functioning and participating in life to the full.
  • Having a strong emphasis on incorporating physical activity into people’s lives to help them improve or maintain functioning, but doing so in a way that works for them.
  • Developing accessible, evidence-informed, programs to help people reach their individual goals such as programs which focus on nutrition, balance and staying engaged.
  • Using innovative arts-based programs to help people achieve greater health and wellbeing.