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australian-soldierOctober 1st was the United Nations International Day of Older Persons and, at a ceremony at Government House Victoria, the 2015 Victorian Seniors of the Year were named.

The awards honour the remarkable contribution of seniors who improve our community and celebrate the contribution of volunteers aged 60 years and over to their local community and to Victoria.

The winners aged between 67 and 90 from all over Victoria, are a diverse group of leaders, advocates and participants in many volunteer activities in their respective communities. Amongst them is Lynette Denbesten, who received the Veteran Community Award.

Lyn and her therapy dog Oscar, are a frequent sight on visits to hospitals and residential aged care facilities for ex-service members and their families in the Geelong area. The pair bring spark and fun to the day, and help to open communication lines to people who might otherwise miss out on social and emotional support.

Lyn is a wonderful example of a generous spirit who gives selflessly for the sake of helping and spending time with other people. She has not let her senior years slow her down – in fact she is doing more and more to ensure she makes every day count.

Lyn’s story resonated with me and what she does epitomizes what we at Dimple stand for – care that shines.

Though we work with residents from all kinds of backgrounds, I have a soft spot for our veterans and in the early days of building the Dimple business they were some of my favourite patients. I loved listening to their stories,in my opinion they are living heroes. Despite this, they are often invisible to the society they sacrificed so much to protect. I have a strong memory of one veteran I once met, he is the one man behind the moment that caused me to redefine my business vision for the future.

His name was Jack and he was a WW1 veteran and bilateral amputee. You might say he had no need for podiatry services, but I was determined to meet him. One day I knocked on his door and cheekily told him that I was Australia’s only bilateral amputee podiatrist so he had to meet me! Thankfully Jack laughed at that and invited me into his room for a chinwag.

I’m proud to say that from that day on, I’d pop in to have a chat with Jack each time I was at his facility.

Each time I visited him he seemed happier to see me and he quickly became my favorite patient, and I his favorite practitioner…despite the fact I never provided any physical treatment.

Meeting Jack transformed me professionally and taught me that our role is to tap into the true spirit of the people we care for and to celebrate the joy of life in shared conversations. Jack taught me the golden rule of aged care – you can choose to laugh or you can choose to cry! And choosing to laugh spreads positivity that extends beyond physical reality and into the memories we keep stored in our hearts forever..

The 2015 Victorian Seniors Festival is happening throughout October. The theme of this year’s festival is Celebrating Communities and it’s about recognising the great role seniors play in community life.

The Festival Program offers more than 1,300 free and low-cost events all over Victoria, including a great array of social, cultural, educational and body-and-soul activities. For more information https://www.seniorsonline.vic.gov.au