Trumps for Biagio

DEMENTIA sufferer Biagio Pezzimenti has forgotten most of the English he learned after arriving in WA some 55 years ago, but he hasn’t forgotten the Italian card game from his youth.

The highlight of his day is playing briscola with the Sergio Gustinetti, an aged care worker at the Italo/Australian Welfare and Cultural Centre.

“He’s a good player and usually wins,” Gustinetti says.

Biagio’s wife Angelina struggled to care for her husband on her own and she found the home visits from the Italian-speaking aged care workers a perfect fit.

“They give him a shower and shave and take him for little walks,” she says.

“They keep him happy and entertained. If he’s happy, I’m happy.”

• Biagio and Angelina Pezzimenti with carer Sergio Gustinetti. Photo by Steve Grant

Mrs Pezzimenti arrived in Fremantle as a 17 year old, after travelling from her Italian village and enduring 22 days of sea sickness.

She only made it to the dining room on the boat once and pretty much ate dry bread and fruit the whole voyage.

Mr Pezzimenti trained as a tailor in Italy, but hated it and once in Australia worked for Main Roads.

His wife on the other hand loved sewing and with no formal training worked for a number of garment manufacturers around Perth.

“I took over and did all the sewing…for 23 years.”

Mr Pezzimenti’s carer, Gustinetti, has worked at the aged care centre for eight years. He’s knocked back opportunities to move up the corporate ladder because he loves the hands-on work with his elderly clients.

Hailing from northern Italy he’s had to learn the dialects of the south, and it was two years before he discovered that an affectionate nickname from one elderly lady actually meant donkey: “Or more correctly an ass,” he says with a laugh.

The centre’s ICare Community Aged Services was launched in 2005 to meet the increasing demand from elderly people in the Italian-Australian communities.


One response to “Trumps for Biagio

  1. What a lovely surprise to find this article regarding aged care in the Italian community. I have seen Sergio and Andrea from The Italo-Australian Welfare Centre at work and was impressed with their dedication and insight in handling the elderly. I’m glad they speak Italian as well as English as most dementia sufferers revert to their native tongue as their preferred language. And yes, Biagio definitely loves his cards! Saluti from Italy.

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