Posted in Uncategorized

Rhonda’s Red Racer

Third Floor: Mobility Scooters… GOING UP!

“Oh yes, Dollie…I still drive my car.  Been driving for over 40 years it must be.  Can’t imagine what it will be like when I have to give it up though.  It really worries me in fact, so I’m not thinking about it ’til I have to.  I mean… what do other old people do when they need to get around?”

“They take the bus or get family members to drive them. Or a taxi, maybe?  A lot of pensioners are eligible to get a discounted rate – half-price I think… so that’s a bonus.  Or we could find out if your council provides an Assisted Transport service… you know, to take you to the shops, appointments and stuff?”

“Oh heavens, I hope it doesn’t come to that, Dollie.  Having to rely on others all the time and being a real nuisance to everyone – I couldn’t stand it!”

“Well, you could get one of those nifty motorised scooters? You see people racing along on the footpaths on them all the time.  Get one with an orange flag sticking up on the back – I could definitely see you on one of those, Rhonda!”

“Actually, I’ve already got a scooter. A bright red one!  But I’ve only used it the once. I took it out for a practice run to the big shopping centre… but it was such a dreadful experience. And now I’m just SCARED of it!”

“Scared why, Rhonda?  What happened at the shops?”

“Well, I drove it front-first into an elevator, not really thinking.  It was such a busy day and the lift filled up behind me with all these people and their great big shopping bags. Then a young mum got in with her twins in an enormous double pram…. and I found I couldn’t get out! I WAS STUCK IN THE LIFT!”

“Oh no!  Didn’t it have a reverse button on it?”

Oh, Dollie it was awful! The stupid thing wouldn’t go backwards!  Instead I had everyone in there, all talking at once, trying to help… giving me suggestions. Ridiculous! In the end THEY all had to get out – to let ME out… including the poor lady with the huge pram and her babies who by then were bawling.”

“And here’s silly old me trying to do a three-point turn in that tiny space… only for that to become a TEN-point turn because I wasn’t steering the damn thing right.  Kept bumping into the doors and beeping the HORN – instead of the BRAKE! Last resort, the blokes (who were all laughing their heads off) grabbed a corner each and literally lifted the scooter out… WITH ME ON IT!”

“Oh, I could’ve died with the embarrassment, Dollie.  I don’t care if I have to take the bus everyday of my life… I’m not going near that hideous contraption EVER AGAIN!”

***Conversation with the fabulously feisty, albeit red-faced… Rhonda ‘Racer’ Rushwell (88)

HAPPY CARING!

Cheers, Dollie
Posted in Poem of the Day

You Don’t Need Toilet Paper (a poem)

Listen up... you don't need Toilet Paper in your life!
Please take it from me, and Betty, my wife.
This Corona-virus they say, it's creeping up quickly
"Buy toilet rolls NOW, for when you get sickly!"

The squabbling in shops; aren't people just AWFUL?
Well, we got through The War, it made us resourceful.
So here's a few tips, you might put into practice
For bathroom ablutions, while the Kleenex is cactus.

The go-to solution?  Simply shred up The Times!
Too bad that it's raspy (and it might leave print lines).
But it's worth it for smugness, when wiping on the face
Of a fool politician, with dumb policies in place.

Another good ploy, for loo-roll relief
Is to extract from your fig tree, a large singular leaf.
Totally natural, so there's no need to be frowny
Just make sure it's utilised, bristle-side downy!

An old shirt can be handy, as you perch there alone
When you find yourself paperless, sat on the throne.
Or a dried-up old corn-cob, on the end of a twig
You can double it up, for the jobs that are BIG.

But a slice of Bet's fruit loaf, is solid and thick
And for ultimate absorption, it does do the trick.
Chock full of goodies, it's the thickest of ply
Just watch out the NUTS don't get caught in your 'eye'!

Oh, our lives are a shambles, there's an odd-smelling stench
We'd rather hold off; we're starting to CLENCH.
Like the loss of a pet, we grieve for bathroom tissue
Come back, Toilet Paper... DEAR GOD, HOW WE MISS YOU!

-by Barry P. Knightly (94)

ALL IS FORGIVEN!!!

HAPPY CARING!

Cheers,
Dollie
Posted in Uncategorized

ROSANNE! …put on the Red Light!

The Comings & Goings at No. 22

“Oh, thank goodness it’s you, Dollie.  Well, what a day I’m having!  

Would you believe it?  It’s been like a train station here today.  Heaven knows what the neighbours must be thinking!

First I had a nice man, Derek, from the council come and do my Home Help.  Must’ve been 9 o’clock when he arrived because he was here quite early.  I usually have Sharon come at 10 o’clock… but I think she’s away on holiday?  

So instead Derek came, but he was lovely.

And he did a really good job… which I was worried about because it’s never the same as when a woman cleans, you know?

Lovely Derek

Anyway, so while Derek was here, I had my physiotherapy man, Gary arrive.  He could see Derek with the vacuum cleaner, hoovering away, making a racket.

So Gary left, said he’d come back later.  Which is fine ‘cos I’m not going anywhere with this useless leg!

And then just as Gary was going, blooming heck, my son in law, Tony turns up to check the tap in the bathroom.  Stupid things been dripping it’s head off and my hands aren’t strong enough to twist it, so I can’t turn it off properly.

So I had Tony in the bathroom, Derek beavering away, Gary doing wheelies in the driveway…. then blow me down, silly old Jim from the Bird Society pops by!  

He likes to go through the minutes of our Meetings before he prints the newsletter each month. To be honest, I think he just likes the company but that’s OK because he’s a nice enough chap and he doesn’t stay long.  

He smells like lavender…. which is an odd flavour for a man, don’t you think, Dollie?

Then I laughed because just as I was waving that lot off, I had Gary the Physio come back – as well as Ron from over the back fence came to chop my hedges back at the same blooming time!  Talk about bedlam in the front garden… and it wasn’t even lunchtime!

Thank goodness Tony was here to sort them out with reversing their cars down the drive… and making sure Jim didn’t hit the fence. He’s got terrible eyesight, Jim, he’s already hit it once before… silly old duffer. I’m amazed they let him still drive!

So, while I had all this going on… I could see nosey-parker Shirley from across the road peering out of her windows. Easy to spot ‘cos the curtains were twitching away…  

Oh, she was LOOKING alright!

Then Gladys from next door came outside… pretending to check her letterbox for what must’ve been the umpteenth time, haha she thinks I don’t know what she’s really up to. Having a good long sticky-beak she was…eyes nearly POPPING!

I can see how they’d be wondering though; their heads would be spinning. Blooming heck, I’ve never had so many men at my house at the one time !  And all in one hit… ha ha MOST UNSAVOURY!

Felt like I was in one of those SEX windows in that street over in Amsterdam.  You know, in the red light district there where it’s all legal.  Where the ladies stand round waiting to lure in the men… WITH THEIR BITS OUT!

Even my son in law Tony had a good laugh after they’d finally all gone. “Geez Rosie, I’m starting to wonder what you’ve got going on here… EXACTLY WHAT COLOUR IS THE LIGHT ON YOUR FRONT PORCH AGAIN?”

Take your eye out, these ‘bits’

***Mrs Rosanne D. Pimms, aged 88 – Jam & Pickling specialist, Budgerigar enthusiast, Neighbourhood Watch president (recently suspended…)

HAPPY CARING!

Cheers,
Dollie
Posted in Uncategorized

Yoo Hoo, Anybody Home?

Care-Worker Tips: For When your Client Doesn’t Answer the Door

SIGNS THAT SOMETHING COULD BE AMISS:

1.  Blinds down in the middle of the day.

2.  A barking and very annoyed-sounding dog.

3.  Client’s car (if they still drive) is in the driveway / is not in the driveway

4. An over-flowing letterbox.

DING, DONG….. are you there, Mr Botherwell?

These would be the winning top four indicators that tell me, as a visiting Carer on the job, that there may be something awry when I arrive for a shift at the home of an older person.  Inevitably, one or all of these ‘clues’ will mean my Client has either gone out, is in bed, or possibly laying injured on the floor hoping that someone, OH PLEASE GOD… will find them.

Perhaps from a medical emergency, or more commonly – they’ve had a nasty FALL. 

A jam-packed letterbox I am immediately suspicious of.  Especially if there is distinct and varying shades of weathered-ness on the junk-mail spilling out of it.  Goodness knows how many days it’s been piling up for (or why the postie insists on stuffing more in???). 

In my experience, this says ‘nobody is looking out for me; I am all alone’ and it’s never a good sign.

That, or my Client has been whisked away by an enthusiastic son or daughter for family jollies at the beach house and, what with the excitement of it all… nobody thought to call and cancel mum’s scheduled shifts.  A more common occurrence over the festive season or public holidays, this one.

Similarly, an unrestrained Maltipoo with a demented look in it’s eye, doing cartwheels across the furniture and yapping its head off as you buzz the doorbell, can be of great concern too.  If ‘mum’ was OK and had been poised waiting for her Home Carer’s visit as normal, she would’ve already bellowed “OH SHUT UP, MOLLY!” and had him tethered to the leg of the kitchen table by now. 

A typical Mad-Molly-Poo!

Observing blinds that are down or curtains tightly drawn still in ‘night time’ mode when it’s well past lunchtime-o’clock, doesn’t send me much of a positive vibe either.  A creature of habit Mr Bill Cornfoot, he should be sitting in his lounge room armchair munching a cheese sandwich, half watching TV, half doing the crossword at this time of day.

Why isn’t he calling out for me to come straight in like he usually does? 

And why is his door LOCKED???

Ah, yes… waiting for a Senior to arrive at their front door can be a worrisome few moments for a travelling Care-worker.  And tempting though it is to roll your eyes and say “Oh god, where’s he gone this time?”  You know in reality, that there is every conceivable possibility that something untoward may have happened to your beloved Client.

The more likely scenario though, is that they have merely forgotten what day it is and have instead gone out.  Doctor’s appointments, to the shops for groceries, getting their hair done, a day at the races, or been taken by friends to play the pokies at the RSL… we hear it all.

And that’s fine.  As long as we KNOW.

I have several repeat offender Clients in this category who despite having had their Home Help service scheduled at the EXACT same time, on the EXACT same day, every week for the last two years, they continue their pattern of being frequently absent on service day.

Arrrggggh the frustration!  So then we play the waiting game…

Because bound by a Duty of Care policy, as a paid Carer I am obliged to take appropriate and timely action when a Client fails to present at the door to ensure they are found safe ‘n’ sound and free from harm.

The key word here being:  FOUND.

.

THE ART OF DOOR-KNOCKING

But before launching the official Sea-to-Air search & rescue mission, it’s important to give your aged Client a fair amount of time to respond to your initial knock.  Followed by a calculated and respectful waiting period (depending on their general state of health and / or their mobility speed), before you go leaning on doorbells or knocking more loudly-er for the second, third or one hundredth time.

Some people can become exceptionally aggravated if they feel pressured into hurrying unnecessarily – so use your discretion. One buzz only, then wait… count to to 20 or whatever it takes before you start ding-donging away furiously.

Remember the reason you are there.  And that it’s not about YOU getting to your lunch break on time – keep your composure and STAY COOL!

(Futile when they aren’t home of course, but as a process of elimination it has to be done).

Mrs Smith?
Mrs Smith?
Mrs Smith?

And while some Clients with gazelle-like reflexes are capable of appearing within seconds (they’ve been glued to the window since breakfast in anticipation of your arrival) other movement-compromised Seniors can take many minutes to complete the long, pain-staking trip up the hallway to their front door. 

Handy if you know this because you visit them regularly, but hard to juggle waiting time-frames if you’re meeting a brand new Client for the very FIRST time.  You don’t want to appear rude or impatient by knocking or ringing continuously, yet you also hope your Client has heard the doorbell and is at least on their way. 

More often than not though, you’ll find the more slower-paced folk will either call out that they are coming, or for you to “Come in, dear” which solves the problem, saves you time and puts everyone’s minds at ease immediately. 

Lovely.

.

KEY SAFES

Some of my more frail Clients, however, can be SO delicate or unwell (you actually wonder how they manage living alone) that their families conveniently arrange for a key-safe to be affixed outside the front door somewhere, perhaps attached to a step railing or post.

This brilliant contraption requires a secret code number to open it before: Hey Presto!  It pops open to reveal a key hiding snug inside for you, as their Carer, to let yourself in.

Word from the wise here:  Make sure you knock first before you stride on in.  And also call out to announce your arrival.  You don’t want your unsuspecting client, in mid-doze, dying of fright as you suddenly appear with your bucket and mop from behind the sofa!

Oh, and make sure you PUT THE KEY BACK in the safe for other Carers who might need to get in after you’ve been and gone.  The havoc you can create if you forget this can be totally disruptive and cause all sorts of headaches.

.

STALK YOUR CLIENT

Once you’ve done the acceptable amount of knocking and ringing, and you still haven’t had a response, there are windows you can peer through, and gently tap upon, as well. 

Move stealthily around the outer rim of the house, calling out their name and rat-a-tat-tatting as you go, just on the off-chance that your Client is in another room, in the shower, or maybe just finishing up important business in the bathroom… no presh!

Or perhaps they haven’t got their hearing aids in?

Or they’re yakking on the phone?

Or they’re having a bit of a zzzz after a poor night’s sleep?

A nosy neighbour can save the day
……OH, I KNOWWWWW

Keep knocking and also check out in the back yard and garage areas too, if you can access them.  I once had a Client whose life revolved completely around her magnificent garden so I knew I’d always find her out back in her wide-brimmed hat digging away in the veggie patch… head down, bum up!

Sometimes too, at this nomadic point, you’ll find a neighbour can often lean over the fence and offer you THEIR five bobs worth on where they think your Client is (or isn’t). 

“Oh I saw the ambulance there early this morning.  Mary’s daughter said she may’ve had a heart attack so I think they’ve taken her in for some tests.”

Although not to be taken as gospel, you at least know that something serious has happened which explains why your dear Client is not going to be home no matter how furiously you knock. At this point, you’d report in to the office and let them take them wheel.

.

HELP!  I’VE FALLEN OVER!

The other less desirable scenario, is discovering your Client on the ground from having an incident such as a Fall.  As unpleasant as this thought is, it is very much a reality considering the age and the state of health of the older adults you are dealing with. 

I once found dear Mr Jeffery Bonecracker out by his clothesline one afternoon after he’d tripped over the peg basket and gone for a tumble.  Although he swore he was fine and ‘please don’t make a fuss, Dollie’, turns out he had a shattered hip, a dislocated shoulder and required two months in hospital (throw in a further six weeks in Rehab).

FUSS?!  Very glad I chose to ignore Jeff’s plea and immediately called emergency services for a whole ambulance-load of fuss! 

Note:  Never hesitate in calling for an ambulance if you feel it’s warranted.  Better safe than sorry – you don’t want the alternative on your conscience.

.

PASS THE BUCK

So once you’ve explored all the accessible surroundings of your Client’s property (and checked under the clothesline) and you STILL haven’t made contact, it’s time to officially launch into plan B: Ring your office.  

Here is the typical procedure a Care Co-Ordinator or Administrator might follow when they receive a report from a Support Worker out in the field with a Client who has not responded:

STEP 1: Phone the Client’s Phone directly:

Fortunately, nine times out of ten, success is often achieved at this point because although your Client may not hear a Support Worker banging, ringing and hollering like a crazed loon at the front door – the sound of their home phone ringing seems to grab attention fairly smartly!

STEP 2: Ring the Rellies:

Failing that, and there is still no response from within the Client’s residence… the office will then call any Next of Kin/Emergency Contacts listed on file in the hope that somebody somewhere may know where your absent Senior is today.

Often, in all the fervour of a better offer, some Clients just downright forget to notify their care provider that they won’t be home today and to please cancel service.  Annoying, but understandable and as we all know in life – stuff happens.

STEP 3: Call the Police:

Last resort – Mr Plod to the rescue!

Finally, the last ditch effort in pin-pointing the whereabouts of your missing Senior is to bring in The Law.  Meaning yes, the Police are informed and a Welfare Check is systematically conducted by them at your Client’s home to ascertain if they are in there or not.  If that means breaking down the door then SO BE IT!

I remember one day not being able to locate my client Mrs Doreen Appelblatt… to pick her up and take her for her regular weekly one hour of shopping.  I’d felt quite concerned at the time when she didn’t answer her door as she had complained only the week before of experiencing dizzy spells and ‘feeling a bit off’ recently. 

The office too, had exhausted all avenues of contact but had managed to locate Doreen’s daughter Ellie who had also become quite anxious.  So much so, that she had jumped in the car and driven the hour long trip to Doreen’s house to see for herself where mum was.

“I rang and reminded her last night that Dollie was coming today to take her shopping – she should be home!”  

Oh god, what if she was on the floor, had slipped in the shower, passed-out and unconscious in the bathroom?  Perhaps she’d banged her head on the dresser and was slowly bleeding to death after crawling on hand ‘n’ knee trying to haul herself to the phone? 

As peppy and alert as Doreen usually seemed, she was 88 years old and had had medical mishaps in the past. Perhaps her number was up and she now lay slumped in a chair from suffering a life-threatening INTRA-CEREBRAL BRAIN ANEURYSM???

(Honestly, the things that fly through your mind!)

But then… as we waited nervously in a clump on the porch for the Police to arrive, Ellie and neighbour Jim (who’d kindly sent out a search party of his own via his Canary Club peeps) watched as a taxi roared round the corner and pulled into Doreen’s driveway.  

In disbelief we looked on, as four high-spirited ladies wearing matching blouses piled out of the car, all yakking at once and juggling handbags with platefuls of cookies and sponge cake.

“Pop the hood, if you would kind Sir!” sang Doreen, oblivious to everything except extracting an enormous gold trophy from the boot of the cab.

I remember daughter Ellie looking relieved, as were we all… but at the same time she was fuming that her absent-minded mother had missed yet another valuable council-provided service, wasted everyone’s time and caused a whole lot of bother.  Not to mention having the nice police officers in on the act, too!

Apparently winning the tuesday morning Senior Ladies’ ten-pin bowling ’round-robin’ just wasn’t going to cut it this time.

“Oh, MUMMMM!!!”

STEEEE-RRRRRIKE !!!

HAPPY CARING!

Cheers,
Dollie

Posted in Poem of the Day

My Grandson, Sam (a poem)

I made my grandson hot cocoa
To warm him from top to toes.
He took a sip
And burnt his lip,
The froth came out his nose!

My grandson loves climbing the plum tree
I call him Super Sam.
We eat all the plums
‘Til we get sore tums
And start pooping out purple plum jam!

Some days we play at the seaside
Sammy off chasing a bird.
Too late to go…
“LOOK OUT BELOW!”
His ice-cream covered in turd!

I love my grandson, Sammy
So sweetly he squeals with glee.
We stole Grandma’s hat
To put on the cat
She sent us to bed without tea!

by Jimbo Loveworthy (‘Grandpa Bo’), age 89

What could go wrong?!

HAPPY CARING!

Cheers,
Dollie

Posted in Aged Care, Joke of the Day

A Hypnotist Visits the Senior’s Centre

You’d better ‘Watch’ Out!

So, anyway… it was entertainment night at the Senior Citizens’ centre. 

After the community sing-along led by Alice at the piano, it was time for the visiting star of the show – Claude the Hypnotist!  Claude explained that he was going to put the whole audience into a trance. 

“Yes, each and every one of you… and all at the same time!” said showman Claude. 

As the lights dimmed, the excited chatter dropped to silence as Claude carefully withdrew from beneath his waistcoat, a beautiful antique gold pocket watch and chain. 

“I want you to keep your eyes on this watch” said Claude, holding the watch high for all to see.  “This is a very special and valuable watch which has been in my family for six generations,” Claude announced proudly. 

you are getting sleeeepy…..

Slowly, he began to swing the watch gently back and forth while, quietly chanting: 

“You must watch the watch — 

Watch the watch —

Watch the watch—” 

The elderly audience became mesmerised as the watch swayed back and forth, sparkling as it reflected light from the watch’s gleaming surfaces.  A hundred and fifty pairs of aged eyes intently followed the movements of the gentle, methodically swaying watch… 

There was no doubt – the crowd were actually hypnotised. Even the staff could not look away!

But then, suddenly, the chain broke!!!   Horror of all horrors, the golden watch fell and rolled off the stage where it hit the ground and burst apart on impact. Shattered pieces of intricate mechanism and smashed glass crystals tinkled across the hard floor.

“SHIT !!!” …cried Claude in dismay at the sight of his bewitching timepiece in smithereens before him. 

It took them three days to properly clean the Senior Citizen’s Centre.

Claude was never invited there again.

Oh, dear…

HAPPY CARING!

Cheers,
Dollie
Posted in Poem of the Day

My Little Yellow Sports Car (a poem)

Because life’s more fun in a sharp suit!
My little yellow sports car,
I puff my chest with pride
When zipping along the freeway,
or tootling through countryside.

My little yellow sports car,
oh, I feel just like James Bond
All that’s missing beside me,
is a long-legged, busty blonde.

My little yellow sports car,
the envy of all my friends
A cut ‘n’ polish each Sunday,
the joy it is immense.

My little yellow sports car,
my daughter calls me absurd
“You’re too old to be driving so fast!”
"That’s shaken’ dear, not stirred".

My little yellow sports car,
now locked up in the shed
I’m not allowed to drive her,
I may as well be dead.

My little yellow sports car,
bye-bye from this ‘Double-oh-Seven’
'Cos when I go I’m taking her with me,
So I can race her to Hell in Heaven.

- by Ted J. Tailpipe, age 88 
....BEEP, BEEP!
Live & Let Die…. sadly, abandoned in the shed

HAPPY CARING!

Cheers,
Dollie

Posted in Society, Working with Elderly

A Bank Account of Memories

“Happiness depends on how you arrange your mind!”

Here’s a lovely story that just randomly popped into my Inbox today.  I thought it just too hard to resist so I’m sharing it on here because it’s so gosh darn sweet. PLUS it includes a piccy of a very lick-able ice-cream WIN-WIN!

Hopefully it makes you smile, offers a bit of perspective and then gets you thinking about priorities you might like to re-evaluate within your own life.

And that maybe life’s too short for all the silly stuff?

At the very least, it will leave you wishing you looked as fabulous in a hat, as this beautiful lady.

ENJOY!

Insightful – and LICKY!

A 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she was legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. 

After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window. 

“Oh, I love it,” she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy. 

“Mrs Jones, you haven’t seen the room …. just wait.” 

“That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she replied. “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged, it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. 

Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away, just for this time in my life.” 

She went on to explain, “Old age is like a bank account, you withdraw from what you’ve put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories. 

Thank you for your part in filling my Memory bank. I am still depositing.” 

Then smiling the whole time, she asked me to remember the five simple rules to being happy: 

  • Free your heart from hatred. 
  • Free your mind from worries. 
  • Live simply. 
  • Give more. 
  • Expect less.

And you know she’s right. Reminds me of a great saying I heard once: Being HAPPY is not a pursuit – it’s an obligation.

Now outta my way – I’m off to find ice-cream!

HAPPY CARING!

Cheers,
Dollie
Posted in Respect, Society

The Invisibility of Older People

If it’s good enough for Ghandi, then maybe we should be touching Grandma’s feet, too?

I’m pretty sure it was legendary peace activist Mahatma Ghandi, possibly during one of his enormous political passive-resistance ‘sit-ins’, who declared that a nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens.

Smug in the knowledge that his beloved India already boasted a solid track record in the unconditional caring of it’s ageing population, he would have been totally confident bandying about such bold and impassioned statements.

In a country where taking care of one’s elderly parents in order to preserve sacred family values is not only tradition, it’s actually considered fundamental to society as a whole.

In fact, so great is the esteem and reverence bestowed upon India’s elders, that youngsters are expected to literally bow down and touch the feet of their treasured grandparents as the ultimate display of respect and adoration.

Eeek!  FEET?

TOUCH ME
TOUCH ME
TOUCH ME

The Chinese too, stay loving and loyal to their older family members by keeping them close, trusting in their vast spiritual wisdom and believing that great fortune will follow them and their household, because they are doing so.

Greeks and Italians also maintain endeared customs where elders demand intense respect from their offspring – including blessings that are sought from, and then held in the highest of regard. With several generations of one family all co-habiting, co-parenting and frequently co-feasting on magnificent cultural banquets under one, usually fairly large, co-roof!

All the time sharing and caring galore for beloved Nonnie and Poppa – it’s just the way it is; the way it always has been. And not once are the words ‘Nursing Home’ or ‘Aged-Care facility’ considered… nor even dared be mentioned.

You look after your own and it’s a beautiful thing.

Becoming OLD and ‘being elderly’ as an Australian however, has up ’til recent times, been a whole different kettle of fish!

Not that we don’t care about the older adults in our lives (admittedly though, there’d be little chance of any feet-touching action)… and it’s not that we don’t WANT to look after dear old Mum & Dad when they can no longer manage on their own.

But with our frantic materialistic lifestyles, we fair dinkum Aussies barely have time to look after the kids, let alone take on care and responsibility of ‘The Olds’ as well. Having to sometimes move away from our home-towns to go where the money is (the hole for a new swimming pool won’t dig itself, you know) we abandon our ageing parents as we strive for bigger and better.

The once close-knit family dynamic is left in tatters and sadly, as our children grow up with little or no interaction with their grandparents (no, Skype doesn’t really count)… it means even less understanding of the issues older people face existing in today’s frenzied modern world.

BUT, thanks to an outstanding healthcare system and an unprecedented change (albeit, gradual) in attitudes toward ageing in general, there is a revolutionary new emphasis on embracing one’s Golden Years. Older generations can now look forward to a potentially long, joyful and productive retirement with due diligence placed on seniors having rights, dignity and an invigorating abundance of empowerment HOORAY!

Yet, should we worry that our youth think it acceptable to treat mature adults in a dismissive and disparaging way?

That our seniors, because they are retired from the workforce and are all (supposedly) sitting about idle and ‘being frail’, clearly can’t have creditable opinions and therefore have little to contribute to society anymore?

Well, today… as I stood waiting in the checkout queue of a large Electrical, IT & Furniture store (can we say Harvey Norman out loud?) I discovered all might not be as hopeless as we once might have presumed.

Amid the din and techno-bustle, I watched as a man of advanced years with abundant white hair and rosy cheeks, walked tentatively into the shop… only to come to an abrupt halt.   I knew immediately what would most surely be going through this nervous bloke’s mind.

“Crikey… where do I start?”

Crowded shops – a nightmare at any age!

To be honest it was pretty similar to what I’d thought myself when I’d charged in earlier. Being one of these enormous retail outlets it’s always daunting until you get your bearings, as well we know.

Thankfully when I’d arrived, I was greeted immediately by an efficient middle-aged-ish customer services lady labelled ‘Brenda’, who duly pointed me in the required direction thereby saving me from a lot of time-wastery and roaming about.

Brenda, however, was noticeably absent in coming to the aid of this gentleman. 

Still hovering in her official capacity at the entrance, directing customers, dispatching them off to the relevant departments… I watched as she quite literally favoured others coming in, over helping him.

And STILL he stood there…

Was she blind? How could she not see him? Surely, she wasn’t outright ignoring this lovely misplaced chap on purpose? For goodness sake… it was like he was The Invisible Man!

OK, so being that I work in Aged-Care and am used to attending to the whims of my clients on a daily basis, you might argue that perhaps I’m just overly-sensitive to this type of carry-on.

Call it what you like, NEGLECT IS STILL NEGLECT!

And regardless of age, it was just wrong that anybody should be treated in such a blatantly disrespectful manner. Such a calm unassuming man… on behalf of all the rotten Brendas out there, I felt utterly pissed off ashamed.

By this stage, too, the poor guy was really getting jostled about. Customers were pushing past him with their large parcels and important busy lives. Finally, as I contemplated the ridiculous logistics of leap-frogging over the counter to go help this now visibly shaken senior, low and behold…a zippy young shop assistant guy appeared.

Fun (NOT).

I braced myself, dreading what awfulness might come from this young whipper-snapper’s mouth. Would there be yet more disinterest, some degrading comments… in an equally demeaning and patronising tone?

Or perhaps a reprimand for causing congestion on the shop floor?  Indeed, if Big Bad Brenda had trained him – he was doomed!

Blow me down, ‘Arden’ (as per name badge), turned out to be the loveliest, most patient and caring lad you could ever have wished for!  Upon touching the old boy gently on his arm so as not to give him a fright, Arden tactfully drew him away from the main thoroughfare and into the safety of the near-empty kitchen appliance aisle.

Looking him right in the eyes and talking directly to him, Arden was giving this most relieved pensioner his fabulously full attention!  And after asking how ‘Sir’ was, suggested that he might like to sit down?

Oh, it was just wonderful to see – I could have cried!

And as I watched them chatting away together and joking about last weekend’s woeful football results… I felt my faith in humanity (and young peeps everywhere) had been restored.

Hooray for you, Arden!   Maybe there’s hope for us all yet.

Indeed, if Mr Ghandi had been watching on from behind the row of chrome toasters and absurdly-priced food mixers, I reckon without question, he would have been most peacefully and passively… chuffed to bits!

So, it’s not all about ME then?

HAPPY CARING!

Cheers,
Dollie


Posted in Aged Care, Communication, Working with Elderly

The Goodbye Wave

Warm Family Fuzzie-Wuzzies!

One of my fondest childhood memories is of our grandparents seeing us off, waving goodbye from their front porch. Smiling contentedly, and without fail at each and every departure time, they’d take up position watching and waving at the top of the steps.

Whether it be the big Sunday family lunch gathering or just a random quick visit to drop off groceries or pick up a bag of lemons from grandad’s garden – it didn’t matter the reason for the visit or how long we were there.  Waving us off was just one of those heart-felt routines that our grandparents dutifully undertook when it came time to seal the deal and bid us farewell.

Grandma Dollie
(circa 1977)

Of course, that’s after the obligatory round of goodbye kisses, hugs and hair ruffling that seemed to go on forever, before we finally got to bundle ourselves into the car for the ride home.

And I remember too, if we turned around at any stage during our exit, as mum or dad manoeuvred the car down the driveway, that they would still be stood there, happily waving and watching for our return waves through the back window.

Then, as we began slowly to pull away out of view, they’d both sing out in perfect unison:

Bye, bye….LOVE YOU!”

I sometimes wondered, after we had gone, how long they might have remained standing there! Waving away… clinging on to happy times in a now empty front garden.

Lovely too, was that even after the granddads were gone, both my grandmothers continued the waving tradition alone, never missing a beat. As if this treasured practice was integral to keeping the family unit bound and sacred forever.

I was too young to realise then, but it was indeed likely that this cherished ritual be the final thrust in my grandparent’s campaign to squeeze out as much valuable ‘together’ time as they possibly could.

I wish now, in hindsight, that I had waved back a lot, lot harder.

Waving – a universal language
(especially popular at train stations)

But, as it delightfully turns out, my grandparents were not the only ‘wavers’ I would ever have the pleasure of!

Thanks to my recent adventures in Aged-Care where I work with older adults in their own homes… I have been fortunate to encounter clients on my travels who also conduct a similar performance when it’s time to say goodbye. 

In fact, possibly as a ploy to prolong my visit, some of my clients even go so far as to walk me right out to my car!  I guess old habits die hard and chatting all the way, we discuss the cat’s weepy eye, admire the Azaleas and analyse the weather as we go.

Unfortunately, for some of my less sprightly clients who have forgotten that their mobility is not as reliable as it once was, I then have to turn round and walk (or wheel) them back inside again! The thought of driving off and leaving a wobbly pensioner on the footpath clinging to their letterbox just doesn’t bear thinking about! So, I don’t mind in the slightest having to spend a bit more time escorting them back to their front doors again.

Besides, it’s a nice little moment that I know will bring a significant amount of joy to someone else’s day. And to be honest, I consider it a compliment that it feels so comfortable for them to think me wave-worthy in the first place.

“Off we go… let’s get you back inside again, Mr Gadabout!”

Stranded at the letterbox

Why only today, one of my regular ladies, Florence, whom I’ve worked with for a couple of years now, makes it her business to accompany me out onto her front verandah where she likes to wait, waving goodbye as I hop into my car.

Having observed Flo become increasingly more and more absent-minded (her symptoms recently diagnosed ‘most likely’ as Dementia), to her it’s the most natural thing in the world to see me off. The same as she would a visit from any close friend or family member – except that I am neither.

“I’ll see you off, dear. And then I’ll put Walt’s dinner on”.

In my rear-view mirror I see the the nonchalant Florence surveying the rosebushes for mottled leaves as she continues her well-rehearsed wave, leaning on the rail for support and so she stays in my sights. Then, just as I reach the end of her drive and I do my return wave back, she looks up at that last second when I’ve straightened up and am about to disappear from her view.

Then, a final flourish with her wrist finishes it all off!

And it’s funny… as I pause for a brief moment to watch her go back inside to peel the spuds for her husband Walter (who actually died 12 years ago), I’m struck with nostalgic thoughts of warm childhood family times and the ghosts of ‘wavers’ past.

So unexpected are the feelings in fact, that I find I have to stop myself from the involuntary urge to call out a big cheery “Bye-bye….LOVE YOU!”

Awwww… feelin’ it

HAPPY CARING!

Cheers, Dollie