Plenty of vegetables, fruit, good genes and crosswords are Dulcie Harwood’s secrets to healthy ageing. The inspirational 94 year old Ballarat resident has also embraced the technological revolution.
“I was given a Nintendo DS (hand held game console) for my 90th birthday and it’s very good. I use it for anagrams, word searches and crosswords – it keeps the mind active,” she says.
Ms Harwood (pictured with her Nintendo DS) is just one of about 320 older people and carers across the western region who are supported by Villa Maria Community Services throughout the year with a flexible range of services tailored to their needs, so they can continue to live in their home and remain valued members of the community.
Direct care worker, Dian Dawson, visits Dulcie once a week to cook meals which are frozen and eaten throughout the week.
“Ms Dawson is lovely – I really look forward to her coming,” Ms Harwood says. “She makes fantastic home style meals like lamb cutlets, curried sausages and crumbed chicken. It’s very good because I used to have Meals on Wheels but was throwing out more than I was eating and I was losing weight, so I had to have a change.”
Support from the City of Ballarat and Veterans Affairs, including home help and transport, also assist Ms Harwood to remain living at home.
Following a bone graft operation in 2008, and due to osteoporosis and arthritis, Ms Harwood is unable to gain weight on her right leg and must use a walking frame to get around.
“Everything else is holding up, it’s just my bones that are no good!” she said.
The grandmother of 12 and great grandmother of “almost 12” has experienced some hard times during her life, including losing three children and two husbands.
She has lived alone since her last husband died in 1995. However, Ms Harwood has always kept busy, indulging her love of travelling for many years until her health issue prevented it.
She has even travelled across most of Australia, to New Zealand and Norfolk Island, and at age 78, packed her bags for a solo trip with a Trafalgar Tour to England, Ireland and Scotland.
Ms Harwood also has an uncanny knack for recalling dates; from major events such as weddings, to hospital visits and operations, to house moves and travels.
“The ladies I meet at the activity centre once a week are amazed when I ring up and say ‘happy birthday’ to them. They ask me how I remember and I say ‘you only have to mention it once!’”
For now, Ms Harwood is counting down the days until her daughter makes a visit from Perth next month for three weeks. And no doubt Ms Harwood’s social outings, visits from support organisations like Villa Maria, beloved ‘whodunit’ books, and word games on her Nintendo DS will keep her busy until then.