Home help’s lasting impact

Up until two years ago the Panayiotous never needed outside help to maintain their Traralgon home.

However, when Herodotos Panayiotou underwent shoulder surgery life soon changed.

Following the surgery, the 85 year-old had limited movement in his shoulders, so Mr Panayiotou and his wife Helen decided they needed support at home and contacted the Gippsland Multicultural Services.

“I couldn’t do much work… Helen has a got a big problem with her heart,” the Cyprus-born Mr Panayiotou said.

The retired train driver said GMS arranged through Latrobe City Council for a woman to help clean and garden at his home every fortnight.

It was through GMS where Mr Panayiotou learned of support services available to assist the elderly who wished to remain independent and in their homes.

GMS director Lisa Sinha said some older migrants live in isolation and were unable to tap into the available support services because of language problems, lack of information, and the fear of being placed in a nursing home.

Ms Sinha said a program called Home and Community Care funded by the federal and state governments, helped “elderly people who need assistance to live independently in their homes as long as possible, and to prevent premature institutionalisation”.

Mr Panayiotou said he and his wife, who is now 80 years old, would like to live independently as long as possible.

Married for 57 years with three children, the Panayiotous said they were not afraid about the possibility of one day moving to a nursing home.

“We’d like to be independent as long as we can, but if we have to go, we have to go,” Mr Panayiotou said.

“If we come to that (situation where) we can’t help ourselves or can’t help one another then that’s the only alternative.”