Joan celebrates 100 years at home
St Kilda was very different when Joan was born here 100 years ago. She loves her vibrant beachside village dearly – and with regular help from KinCare– she can still enjoy an independent life at home.
It’s common for centenarians to be asked for advice on how to live a long life.
“I don’t have a secret as to how I got to this age,” explains Joan. “I just worked hard, looked after my mum and my husband and here I am.”
Joan was born in March 1919, incredibly, just a few streets from where she lives today.
“I’ve seen so many changes over the years,” she says. “Back in the day, everyone knew everyone, the area was full of shops and markets, it was so lively.”
Joan is very grateful for her happy childhood. She and her friends spent endless happy days at the beach.
“Mum would bring sandwiches down at lunchtime and we’d play all afternoon. We all got sunburned – how we got away with it I don’t know,” she says.
But life wasn’t always sunny. In the 1930s, the Great Depression hit.
“It is one of my most vivid memories of childhood,” recalls Joan. “My dad didn’t have a job and I don’t know how mum got food on the table – but we managed.”
However, Joan believes this period gave her the life skills to thrive through adversity – something she’s tried to do as she faces the challenges of ageing.
“I think living through that made my generation so much stronger. I’m not sure how people today would cope, especially the kids,” she says.
In today’s world where relocating is common, Joan says people are surprised to discover she has lived in St Kilda her entire life.
“They ask me if I ever went overseas and they look amazed when I tell them it used to take six weeks to get to the other side of the Suez Canal in my day. Can you imagine getting that much time off work?”
She did go abroad once, in her late 80s, when her friend Jimmy and his friend Peter won tickets to go to Penang in Malaysia, and took her with them.
“It was a wonderful island, a great adventure,” she says. “The next year they went to Paris and offered to take me, but that was a bit too far. They brought me back a bottle of Ma Griffe perfume instead.”
Today, Joan describes her life as “pretty quiet”. She is getting a bit frail, which makes it harder to get out in the garden to weed and water. But Joan is by no means bored she has a lot of friends that drop by regularly and her carers from KinCare visit a few times a week.
She credits weekly help from her friendly KinCare Home Care Workers with making sure vital daily tasks still get done that keep her life productive, meaningful and worry-free.
It’s wonderful, because this regular support leaves Joan more time to entertain her many friends who drop by for a cuppa and a chat.
“I also spend time watching the world go by out of the window. I have a beautiful cat named Puss.
“He actually belongs to the neighbours but he won’t stay there so he spends his days with me!”
Recently, Joan was planning her 100th birthday festivities. It’s no surprise that for down-to-earth Joan, it’s all about sharing the day with her favourite people around her and a cheery but relaxed celebration. She suspects it will be a party in her backyard with a sausage sizzle and her friends and family each bringing a favourite plate of food to share.
Of course, Joan is proud to have reached her centenary – but what matters more to her is the satisfaction of having faced each day with joy and grit. The remarkable result is a long life well lived.