Growing number of centenarians as Irene turns 103

Fourteen residents and clients of HammondCare’s aged care services are 100 years old or more with a further 13 reaching their centenary in the next 12 months.

Amazingly eight of these centenarians are still living in their own home with support from HammondAtHome community care teams, while only two out of 14 are men.

HammondCare’s oldest care recipient overall will turn a remarkable 105 later this year and is an aged care resident in a northern Sydney service. The woman is described as “an absolute delight” with a “cheeky sense of humour” who was playing tennis until just a few years ago.

While the number of centenarians is a still a relatively small percentage of total aged care recipients, the figure is steadily growing in line with predictions found in this year’s Intergenerational Report.

The report said that by 2055 – 40 years time – Australia can expect to have 40,000 members of the 100 plus club compared to 4000 today and just 122 in 1975.

Irene turns 103

The most recent HammondCare resident to celebrate a birthday with triple figures is Melbourne’s Irene Brohier who turns 103 this Saturday, August 1.

Living in HammondCare Caulfield’s Glen Eira home, staff enjoyed sharing a joyful celebration with Irene and her son Peter today and this will be followed by a visit from Member for Caulfield, David Southwick for her actual birthday. Senator Mitch Fifield was interstate but sent a personal greeting to Irene.

Irene is HammondCare’s fourth oldest aged care recipient out of more than 2,500 residents and community care clients. Head of Public Affairs, Peter Hallett, compiled this report on Irene:

Never give up attitude

Talking with Peter Brohier about his mother reminds us all that it is never too late to learn something new about our loved ones and to keep a sense of curiosity and openness.

Irene, born August 1, 1912, had a challenging start to life in India with her father dying when she was very young. With her family unable to provide for her in those difficult times, she spent some year in an Indian orphanage. She recalls being given a mat to sleep on and tin for eating meals.

At the age of six, she was able to move on from the orphanage to live again with family. In 1948 she relocated to Australia and married. Before this she had learned to play the piano, obtained a degree from Madras University in the 1930s and became a mathematics teacher, teaching in Bishop Cottons, an Anglican school in Bangalore. Education remained a significant issue for her throughout her life.

Over the years she lived in Adelaide and then in North Caulfield, Melbourne. Son Peter Brohier says she is a person with great motivational skills and a “never give up” attitude. Her faith is vital to her.

She entered full time aged care about two years ago having being cared for by Peter, her only son, before that. Peter, a lawyer, has always found his mother to be inspirational and her own approach to life provided great motivation to him

This included as he worked towards a key achievement which was to successfully lobby the Howard government to introduce the Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme which is still in place today. This vital measure provides transport equity across the Victorian/Tasmanian border.

And then suddenly a song

When he inquired about the story behind the song, Irene explained she had composed the song from some verses she read as a child of 10. Some eighty years later she sang it to him for the first time.It was a surprise for Peter, thinking he knew well the story of his mother’s life, for her to come to him around the time of her 90th birthday, and sing a beautiful song that he’d never heard before.

The Fairy Song is evocative of another era and yet timeless in in its own way and Peter was so taken with it, he immediately recorded it on his computer and later arranged for his mother to record the song in a studio along with a professional singer and musicians.

And in case any one was in any doubt, Irene gave an impromptu performance of her song to all those gathered for her birthday celebrations!

Listen to the song:


Living with an outward focus

Peter says his mother is alert and aware and enjoying the care now being provided by HammondCare, who this year took over the Glen Eira aged care home where she lives.

“Staff are very attentive and considerate,” Peter says, “and my mother and I value that we have in common with HammondCare an appreciation of the importance of living outwardly focused lives.

"In Irene’s case, this focus has resulted in a long and fruitful life and she has influenced me to focus on seeking equity for others and to live a life of purpose through public service,” Peter said.