By Taylor Navarro 

    At the prime of our lives, we revel in the adrenaline rush of the new experiences, changes, and the maturity that each year, and maybe decade, brings on. We reminisce about our childhood, we cringe about the things we did at the height of puberty. We laugh at our teens. Some of us stay there, wishing we could go back.  

    And then there’s the adult years. The grown-up years, the years where we are aliens to the new little kids who are just starting the journey we’ve been on for however many years. Some of us start families, some of us devote ourselves to our career, others do something different. Whatever our choices or circumstances, and as eternal as those years can feel, nothing can prepare us for the dread that confronts us when we have to think about what happens after. 

    The years that come after adulthood. 

    The ‘old people’ years. 

    Although the ‘after’ varies from person to person, the same words will still come up once or twice in everybody’s lifetime, regardless of standing or circumstance. ‘Nursing homes’. 

    Some people hate thinking about these places. There are too many horror stories to ignore the negative connotation attached to them— mistreatment, neglect, abuse,  loneliness. It’s an uncomfortable topic when it starts to become part of your near future. But it’s not just uncomfortable for the people who may become patients. 

    … Think about the people who might work there. If going into a nursing home is hard to talk about, then working in one is practically unspoken about. How many people can say that they are actively looking for work in an aged care facility, that it was their ambition from the start? That it was what they had imagined as a career from the very beginning?

    Every year, the number of aged care workers declines. Aged care is not exactly promoted positively from either end, giving and receiving. We’re in an era where healthcare is finally getting the credit and attention it deserves (for the most part). Covid did that. But for all the positive impact, it had as much that was negative. If there was one thing about Australian healthcare that went untouched by the pandemic, if not pushed down a steep hill, it was aged care. 

    The number of people who need aged care isn’t going to slow down any time soon. With few willing participants actively wanting to engage with aged care as a career, there is starting to be a very significant imbalance between admissions and staff.

    The way aged care is spoken about needs to change. The stigma behind it, the fear of going into it? It needs to be deconstructed. But that’s layers and layers of stereotypes to be unpacked. If we want more aged care workers, if we want more young individuals to want to consider it as a career, then it needs to be talked about more. There needs to be an equal list of pros to the mountainous list of cons. Yes, it’s hard work. Yes, maybe it’s not the ideal dream. But is it rewarding?

    That’s to be discovered. 

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