Name: Sabihe
Age at interview: 71
Gender: Female

Sabihe is 71 years old and has four children and three grandchildren. Originally from Iran, she has lived in Australia for 45 years and now resides in Melbourne. Sabihe is widowed and has dealt with arthritis, diabetes and breast cancer.

More about Sabihe

Sabihe had always hoped she would not get old. She says that mentally and emotionally she does not feel old, it is just her body that is ageing. About 15 months ago she started to experience tremendous pain in her joints and is now finding it difficult to walk. She believes that having a positive attitude is extremely important when dealing with health problems. While she has had breast cancer, she says she is not going to ruin the rest of her life worrying about whether it will come back. Sabihe emphasises that it is extremely important to never lose your sense of humour, particularly when faced with difficult situations. She believes that once you start laughing at what is happening, you are on the road to recovery.

Sabihe thinks that as you get older and less busy, you need a partner and companion more. However, Sabihe lost her husband 15 years ago, and this made her family realise the fragility of life. She would like to be in a relationship, to have someone to talk to and do things with, but feels that most men just want sex. She says that because her husband was such an amazing man, she is unlikely to meet anyone who meets this high standard.

She is very close with her children, who phone her every day and they often go travelling together. Sabihe has started to try new things as she has aged; recently she has climbed a mountain and rode a motorbike - things she never would have done when she was younger. She believes that if we put too many limitations on ourselves life becomes boring. Sabihe likes to spend time with young people; she plays games with her grandchildren and this makes her feel younger.

To stay healthy Sabihe tries to cook healthy meals and eat fresh vegetables and fruit. She enjoys swimming, which is particularly important as her mobility is limited. Sabihe volunteers at the co-op at her son's university and loves to participate in the annual State Government Senior's Festival. While Sabihe likes to get involved in the community, she has found it difficult to obtain employment. She believes the knowledge and life experience older people have is not valued, particularly in Australia, and that older people are a vast untapped resource. She has volunteered for refugee organisations and believes the way asylum-seekers are treated is very inhuman and this makes her sad, as Australia has changed so much in the last few decades.

Sabihe has found ageing in Australia to be a positive experience, as she is encouraged to participate and loves her volunteer roles. She explains that in Iran she would be expected to stay at home and look after grandchildren, and would not have the opportunities to travel as she has. However, she believes in Iran the elderly are more respected than in Australia and children look after their parents until they die, rather than putting them in a nursing home. After seeing her own mother suffer in a nursing home she would not like to experience that herself. Based on Sabihe's experience in private hospitals, the lack of human care and compassion, and the lack of communication from doctors worries her. As a trained nurse, Sabihe feels that nursing has become mechanised and that training should focus on the human aspects of one-to-one care.