Silhouette of elderly aged female woman.  loneliness
Silhouette of elderly aged female woman. loneliness

The Queenslanders who are still incarcerated

AS YOU enjoy your new-found freedom in the great outdoors, you may care to spare a thought for those Queenslanders on whom the sun still does not shine.

These are our senior citizens, "oldies" as they are so frequently labelled, who remain locked in the aged-care facilities, in which they have been incarcerated since the virus crisis began.

If they are fortunate, they might be granted a 30-minute visit from a family member on a weekday, but at the weekend, the doors are locked.

No walking in the park for them or ambling along the river bank, just the view through their window of the world outside and the endless monotony of institutional existence.

My mother, who is 92, is in one such facility, and I see her on Wednesdays at 3pm for 30 minutes in a room set aside for the purpose, although we usually manage to stretch it to 40.

I asked her last week how she was handling the isolation and she said simply: "I get lonely. I really miss the conversations."

It's easy to forget the "oldies" and the mental stress they are enduring.

We self-isolated in our apartment for two weeks and by day 10 I was crawling up the wall, but I knew it was a finite confinement.

For Mum and those like her, there is no such reassurance. Their lives remain on hold, with no one able to tell them when they will be able to rejoin the society of which they have been a part for 80 or 90 years.



They are "oldies", so they have no voice.

Politicians pay them lip service, but they have no certainty in their lives.

They've watched as the rules have been bent to breaking point so that a bunch of overpaid and over-entitled footballers can chase each other around a paddock, and wait patiently, because they have no choice, for someone to tell them when they can once more be surrounded by family and friends and enjoy the brush of the wind against their face.

They read that the rules might be bent further to allow foreign students to enter the country, and wait for someone to tell them when they might again see their grandchildren.

An email this week from the daughter of an 86-year-old woman living in a retirement village rather than an aged-are facility cast light on another injustice perpetrated on the "oldies".

The daughter sometimes spends the night with her mother in the spare room of her apartment, but received a letter last week telling her that she is banned from doing so for the rest of the year.

This is because the Federal Government has a rule limiting the number of nights retirement village residents can have overnight guests to 30 in any calendar year.

Her daughter has reached her limit and now has to wait until January 1 until she can again stay with her mother.

The weekend lockdowns of our "oldies" have to end, and greater flexibility - such as a walk in a nearby park - given to visitation rules, and these changes have to be enforced by the State Government, which has not been slow to boast of how tough it has been in applying its rules to the general population.

Like the rest of us, the "oldies" deserve their time in the sun.





Originally published as The Queenslanders who are still incarcerated