The joy of spring and our beautiful outdoors – Sharing Claudia’s story

Claudia Barry Toowoomba

Ozcare Toowoomba resident Claudia Barry loves everything about Spring, especially the beauty of Toowoomba’s flowering parklands.  They are a great reminder to the 77-year-old of the role of the season throughout her life.

As many of our seniors venture out during Seniors Month in Queensland, many social connections are renewed through events with family, friends and the community.

Like Claudia, among more than 450,000 Australians living with dementia, renewing social connections will be vitally important in the weeks and months ahead.

Groups of older people will venture back out into our parks and beaches for some much-needed reconnection with loved ones and nature.

There are many health benefits to being outdoors, however it is also a chance for people living with memory loss to spark moments from their past.

Claudia recently soaked up the abundance of flowering garden beds as she joined other Ozcare residents during the first bus trip since lockdowns to Toowoomba’s Laurel Bank Park.

For Claudia, the magic of Toowoomba in full bloom was profoundly joyous.

“As a beautiful young girl growing up on the Darling Downs, Claudia had dreams of being a Carnival Queen at Toowoomba’s Annual Carnival of Flowers,” her younger sister Amanda explained.

“And although she never entered the beauty competition, she proudly embraced the carnival atmosphere every year, designing the vibrant floral window displays when she worked at Beresfords Footwear, and later as a volunteer at St Vincent de Paul clothing shop.

“She always had a beautiful garden, in a spotless house, everything about her was spotless. Every year, she would dress the windows with flowers. She did really love the spring flowers and everything about spring and still does.”

According to Amanda, the two sisters are the only surviving members of a large family from Roma, which included four boys and three girls.

“We were always extremely close as siblings,” Amanda recalls.  “Claudia was slap-bang in the middle of the boys and I was the youngest and our sister was the oldest. We all had a close, loving relationship.”

“When we moved to Toowoomba, Claudia graduated Grade 8 and worked at Beresfords. She travelled to New Zealand, and spent a few years there, before returning to work at Brampton Island and Sydney.

“She has two sons and three grandchildren now. Claudia loves everything about life. She sees everyone else as old, not her.”

Claudia’s amazing zest for life is just one of the stories being celebrated this month as seniors become the focus across the state.

Throughout October, Ozcare is hosting activities for Seniors Month around the theme: Social Connections. The Queensland Government and the Council of the Ageing Queensland is supporting inclusive events and activities across the State.

At Ozcare, we have rolled out craft projects, 70s parties and will be taking the beach wheelie out for a spin at Clontarf. It will be an active, fun, and fabulous month-long party for people of all ages, cultures, and abilities.

Written by Tanya McCulkin, Ozcare Toowoomba Facility Manager