Mary and me

After deciding to care for her mum, Australia’s very own Jo Swiggs wrote a book about her inspiring journey to prove that caring for somebody doesn’t need to be a burden.

IN HER book Mary and Me, Josephine Swiggs talks about her personal journey, which began years ago when she realised her elderly mother needed a bit more help at home.

Jo’s mum, Mary, wanted to continue living at home and after a discussion the pair worked out what support systems could be put in place to ensure Mary got her wish.

“I know for me personally I wouldn’t want somebody else thinking for me – I would like to make my own decisions,” Jo told Our World Today.

“So for me it was very important to ask mum what she would want and what she would like so I could give her the respect and the dignity that she quite rightly deserves.”

Jo Swiggs, who has a background in health, says Mary and Me is a practical guide that shares tips that worked for her and her mother.

“It has got nothing to do with qualifications or education, it’s a little guide that hopefully will help people in giving them some tips that have worked for us.”

Making a plan to care for your loved one and enjoy the enriching experience of caring for someone are just some of the issues the book explores.

The book also includes some personal stories of Jo and her mother.

Jo said writing the book has taught her more about respect and dignity for older people.

“I have leaned an enormous amount from my mum and it’s helped me to be able to stand back and see that in a sense older people are not perhaps ‘old’.”

“They perhaps are older in chronological years but not in the way that they think, feel and act.”

Mary, 93, keeps up to date with current affairs and chats with Jo everyday.

She is grateful for Jo’s support and says the two have become closer since her daughter started seeing her more often.

Mary used to be an English teacher and in recent years taught English as a second language.

Mary and Jo will head to Prague this month where they say they will “shop until we drop”.

While overseas, Jo will present a paper to the International Federation on Aging Conference and discuss some of the elements in her book.

The book was released last month in Adelaide by Uncanny Media, around the same time the Federal Government announced its $3.7 billion aged care reform.

The Gillard Government’s Living Longer. Living Better package will see more funding redirected towards services to enable elderly people stay in their homes when possible.

The number of home care packages will increase by almost 40,000 and the majority of expenditure for the package will occur between 2016 and 2017.

Jo says her book has received a lot of positive feedback and hopes through sharing her story she will help others with loved ones who need some care and wish to remain at home.

To order a copy of ‘Mary and Me’ visit

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Brianna Piazza

Journalist and travel writer.

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