Posted in Aged Care, Exercise, Mobility

ACTIVE AGEING: Helping our Elders, Help Themselves

Let Lettie Fetch Her OWN Newspaper!

Please come back, Grandma!

Every day, our delightful neighbour Lettie-from-across-the-way, walks outside her front door, down the steps and across the driveway to collect her newspaper from off her front lawn.  It’s usually in the same spot every morning, give or take, depending if the delivery boy gets his projectile right and doesn’t instead end up riding his bike into the bushes (you’d think he’d have this sorted by now).

On her way back towards the house, her mission accomplished and with paper stuffed purposefully under the wing of her arm, Lettie then likes to pause and glance over the neighbourhood.  She pretends to pick a bit of dead something off the rose bush at the bottom of her steps, then ambles cautiously back inside to (most likely) put her feet up from a job well done.

And it’s painstaking to see!

Nearing 94-years old, living alone and with seriously swollen ankles from kidney disease, ‘a bit of diabetes’ and being almost totally blind thanks to advanced macular degeneration, Lettie has slowed down significantly in the last couple of years.

We know this because we have quite literally witnessed the progressive decline in Lettie’s mobility thanks to our lounge room windows facing directly opposite hers.

Needless to say, you can pretty much set your clocks to Lettie’s ‘daily-newspaper-pick-up’ ritual.  Unfolding before us almost like a big-screen movie, we get to watch all Lettie’s comings and goings – as she does ours. Which is actually kinda nice being that it offers a warm fuzzy familiar feeling to let you know all is right with the world.

But that doesn’t make it any easier to watch!

“Once I’ve had my weeties and taken all my tablets, it’s time to do the morning dash!”

Less of a DASH… more of an action replay stuck in serious slow-motion?  Thankfully, Lettie enjoys joking with us that it takes her sooooo long and that tomorrow morning she’s thinking about packing a picnic lunch and making a day of it.

“I’ve got all day – may’s well take a cream bun and enjoy myself at the half-way mark!”

You want it?
COME GET IT!

Awkwardly steering her wheelie-walker to the top of the steps, our hearts are in our mouths as her front wheels teeter close to the porch edge. Applying the brakes, just in the nick of time, Lettie then grapples her way down the steps in lunging fashion, by means of the metal railing installed by her family a few years back.

She then shuffles… barely lifting her puffy slippered feet… across the driveway to the edge of the lawn where she then stops, statue-still with hands on hips, to peer at the grass expanse before her.

Eventually, depending on the angle of the sun and the landing position of the newspaper on that particular day, Lettie is usually able to decipher enough colour contrast to make approximate visual contact with her printed prize.

Ah yes! There’s actual science involved, don’t you know?

However… if the paper has made touch-down on the driveway instead of the lawn, poor legally-blind Lettie has NO CHANCE of finding the dam thing!  

As I guilefully explain to my pre-teen son, the grey-ness of the concrete doesn’t make the off-white coloured newspaper ‘pop’ like the bright green-ness of the grass does.

Lettie then ambles her way across the lawn and upon reaching her quest, snap-bends in half to scoop up the cellophane-sealed roll in a one-motion move. Turning stiffly, she then pauses to gaze at the street around her (more to have a rest than to actually ‘look’ at anything), before tottering her way back onto the driveway, then slowwwwwwly on towards the front steps.

It can be a good 20 minutes by the time Lettie has hauled herself up the steps to the security of her wheelie-walker at the front door, during which time I have hung out a load of washing, ironed the school uniforms, yelled at the kids and fed the cat!

My enthralled son can stand watching this senior’s snail-paced performance NO LONGER.

“Man! Can’t we just get it for her, Mum?” 

“Oh no, absolutely NOT, my child!” 

Then, chuffed that I get to impart my Aged-Carer’s industry knowledge on somebody (anybody?) I then proceed to explain that as long as Lettie is able to collect her newspaper for herself – then let her WE MUST.

And that regardless of Lettie’s diminished eyesight and her age-related health issues, it was important for Lettie, if she wanted to remain living independently in her own house, that she be able to do boring household chores such as this.  

For herself.

I also knew, from conversations with her daughter Sue, that Lettie had very little other physical activity going on in her day.  Sue therefore felt it crucial that her mother be encouraged to continue this one daily routine, this one small piece of healthy exertion, in order to keep blood flowing, muscles moving, her mind stimulated and hopefully result in a much better quality of life for Lettie all round.

For the meantime, Lettie could exist alone at home feeling good about herself and know that she was maintaining independence, her self-respect and the satisfaction that she still (mostly) had control over her own future.

And that’s a really super important thing when you’re an elderly person, as I explained to my son (who oddly, has always been quite fascinated with Lettie’s newspaper antics).

“But what does she want a paper for anyway?  I thought she was BLIND?”

I remember at the time staring blankly at Junior aware that with this last line of inquiry, he had stated the ‘blindingly’ obvious.  And as the wave of realisation washed over me… I thought it might be a good idea to give Sue a call for a bit of a chat.

“Nobody likes a smarty-pants, darling.  Go let the cat out!”

Move it – OR LOSE IT!

HAPPY CARING!

Cheers, Dollie
Posted in Communication, Respect, Society

When Young People talk to Old People, BADLY

Getting our Kids Skilled-Up in the Art of Conversation

You talkin’ to me?

It must be wonderful knowing that your teenage son or daughter is mature enough to hold an ACTUAL conversation with your adult friends. Seeing them chat away freely when introduced; radiating confidence galore when asked if they are enjoying their new high school, all the time maintaining solid eye contact and without a dot of embarrassment or discomfort.

Whilst you stand alongside, glowing with pride and marvelling at what clearly must be some pretty bloody fabulous parenting skills, thank you very much!

Today I discovered that my 13-year old son did not possess such ability.

Not even close, in fact.

As a mum who thought she’d had it all covered: good manners, gracious conduct, appropriate behaviour and the biggie ‘Respect for others’… it came as a rude slap in the chops, as I watched Junior’s social skills crumble and turn totally to mush.

Our visit this morning was to a medical centre, thanks to my son’s recent sporting injury (long story, don’t ask), was for follow-up x-rays and to be given the all clear to have the annoying brace on his arm removed.

An ideal location to meet and engage in friendly banter with seniors, it’s common knowledge in aged-care circles, that a doctor’s waiting room is ‘top of the pops’ to test even the most experienced of gasbags! 

A sea of silver-haired ‘chattables’

It was as we sat bored waiting to be called, when an older smartly-dressed man with walking stick and twinkly eyes, leaned over to my son and asked in a fairly loud tone (hearing issues, obviously), what had he done to himself?

I continued reading my mag, confident that Chatterbox Charlie (as he is known at home and at school), would be equally as open and friendly. The two of them would yak away in ‘blokey’ fashion and by the time we left they’d be the bestest of buddies, possibly even a firm handshake farewell and promises to meet for tea and cake one day soon.

But what was this? 

Instead, no!  Junior was beside himself! Turning sharply to look at me, his face strained in terror… he was actually pleading me with his eyes, as if to say, “Oh god, please Mum, SAVE ME!”

Mortified, with the realisation that my dear beloved child was indeed a complete social flop after all, I attempted to verbally prompt him so he could explain to the nice inquiring man how he had sprained his arm in a game of football.

The old guy continued on, jokingly encouraging my son to join in.

“I thought you’re sposed to use your leg to kick the footy – not you’re arm!”

As Junior turned bright red and awkwardly squeaked out some sort of inaudible response (all the time staring down at the floor, clearly wishing the tiles would open up and pull him down into the deep, dark depths of the earth where no scary old dudes could ever find him)… it dawned on me that some people might actually find conversation with an elderly person intimidating. 

Especially those they hadn’t met before. And I get that.

Hearing Aids
– they’re great when they work!

Growing up as a shy young teen, I remember myself, the feeling of horror when an adult would talk to me – especially one I didn’t know well. The worry of not knowing what to say, or sounding silly if I did say something, or being judged and thought an idiot. It was cause for real anxiety!

In lieu of that thought, I decided my son needed a lesson in the art of conversation, STAT! Time for me to earn that Mother of the Year title and get him properly prepped and trained up on some good old-fashioned Communication Skills 101.

Yes, I would be doing this for me (and my shattered ego), but more significantly, I was doing it for my soppy, socially inept son. It was imperative that in today’s frantic and fiercely competitive world, that he be an efficient communicator; to gain the advantage over his peers by being able to competently talk and earn respect from older adults.

To impress the pants off his teachers, his footy coach or even his own grandparents by engaging them in some light, but thoughtful bit of chit-chat for goodness sake!

And at the same time, emphasise to my son that it didn’t matter what age a person was. That all it took was a little friendliness and a smidge of empathy to show kindness towards another human being and to make them feel good. That many older adults spend days, sometimes weeks sitting alone in their homes, desperate for company and to feel part of the community.

Could he imagine what that must be like?

Only the lonely

So, while the elderly chap and I laughed and chatted about the weather, his dreadful arthritis and the price of petrol, I felt Junior watching on taking it all in. I wasn’t completely daft though; I knew in reality my son’s interest would be only fleeting and that soon enough he’d tune out, switch on his iPod and go back to mindlessly picking at the tag on his arm brace.

But blow me down, before you could ask ‘Is there a doctor in the house?’ my amazing little man surprised us all as he turned to the lovely white-haired lady sitting next to him.

Then, without missing a beat, smiling and looking her straight in the eye, in a big clear voice said, “Hello, are you having a nice day today?”

My faith restored, I nearly leapt out of my chair with the excitement of it all! My son was a lovely thoughtful person after all!

Unfortunately, I don’t think the poor little mite will dare go anywhere in public with his raving, lunatic mother again.  Not sure if it was the cheering out loud or the ‘high five-ing’ with the receptionist that sent him scurrying horrified out of the room!

HAPPY CARING!

Cheers, Dollie
Posted in Technology, Working with Elderly

HELP! The Computer Swallowed Grandma

You wanna do WHAT with my Cookies?

I bet Grandma would like to give HIM a finger…

Before we go scoffing and rolling our eyes too loudly when it comes to mustering the patience for showing an aging parent how to “logger” themselves onto a recently erected PC, iPad or tablet device, consider this:

—–> Your mother taught you how to hold a spoon, wipe your bot-bot and count to ten.

Did she poke fun at you then?

Or, when a grandparent who is desperately trying to master the art of “this emailer caper” just so she can stay in touch with her grandkids (yes, your children)… because nobody writes letters anymore and rather than being left behind and feeling cut-off from her family, she is at least making the effort to come to grips with all this “technical gadgetry” even though it is completely foreign, she finds it intimidating and it just feels so damned impersonal to her.

And isn’t it just gorgeous (we try not to patronise) when she announces how mod and trendy she is when she FINALLY manages to “pop off an email” to her darling 10 year old grandson, Max. It’s only taken her most of a day but she persevered and got there in the end.

Although, whether or not little Maxi actually received the email is a different story!

“Umm, did I push SEND…

Or was that the SAVE button…

Is there a way of getting it to come back???”

And then now that she’s so proficient and computer savvy, she even remembers to sign off with “LOL from Grandma” just for effect… because that’s Lots of Love, isn’t it?

You have to admire her for being so plucky and at least giving it a go, don’t you?

“Oh, Maxi will be SO impressed to see how his grandmother knows “dot com and stuff!”

More and more it seems I’m getting begged by my elderly clients, when I arrive at their homes, if I could please have a look at their jammed-up, unresponsive computers or merely to explain what “that funny noise” means and how it only started making it after that dreadful storm last week.

Do you think perhaps some water got into the wiring, Dollie?”

That the “inter-web must be broken” because the screen hasn’t lit up… or that “I think I’ve broken the internet” after accidentally deleting her own shortcut icon. Or asking if one needed to locate an ‘App’ just to bring up the local bus timetable. Or wondering why “my internet is so slow and it won’t let me start typing anything in”… only to discover she’d inadvertantly opened close to 30 windows and had 14 tool bars running!!

“Would it be easier if I hopped on to ‘The Google’ instead, Dollie?”

In my experience (and being that it would be totally inhumane and nasty), there is no merit gained from sniggering into the face of an earnest older adult who is already feeling inadequate.  They understand and accept that all this new whizz-bang technology is completely over their head and that of course they know how ridiculous they must look to us younger smarty-pant types.

Instead, I sit down, and LISTEN to what they are trying to achieve and if it sounds like something basic (such as the ever-popular ‘not being turned on at the wall’), then I tactfully suggest we try giving the switch a flick and see how that goes.  

“Oh, it happens all the time, Mrs Terrabyte, no need to feel embarrassed.  In fact, I sometimes do the same thing myself!”

And then we laugh. Until she reveals for the life of her she can’t remember what her wretched password is… and could she use mine instead?

So here’s a cute little poem I found “on the line” that suits the occasion and ends very nicely too.


See what I mean – CUTE!  

Of course in real life, we would never wish to lose dear ol’ Grannie into the deep dark depths of the cyberspace abyss (or have her gobbled up by a worm) in a million years. 

Who else is gonna tell us what cupboard she hides the ‘cookies’ in… tee hee!!

HAPPY CARING!

Cheers, Dollie
Posted in Fashion, Working with Elderly

Can You Tell a Man’s Age by the Height of his Trousers?

We love you, Harry-High-Pants!

My elderly neighbour, Ivy recently shared with me this gorgeous black&white of her hubby Robert wearing a dress-up costume his mother made for him when he was just a young lad.

Whilst not sure of the exact year, Ivy believes it to be sometime during the 1940’s “when The War was on and we had to make do with what we had”.

SEE HERE…….. (couldn’t you just DIE?)

You started it, Superman!

Adorable as it most definitely is, it’s hard not to miss the extremely elevated pair of buckled-up underpants that Superman, aka Robbie (aged 5), is sporting in the photo.

Gee, the poor kid had no chance!

It explains too, why the now 87-year old Rob clearly has no qualms with wearing his trousers as high as an elephant’s eye to this very day.  Undoubtedly, it’s what he grew up with, feels comfy in and it’s just how he (and Superman) were raised.

Which is fair enough when you consider the fashions of the time.  Their time.  Back in the day with all the big screen stars: Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, Gregory Peck & co – all swanning about, gushing masculinity (well, most of the time) and looking suave as all heck in their tall tweeds. So naturally, the trend for the common man about town, was to do likewise and don a stylish pair of pleated high-waisted pants just like their dapper Hollywood idols.

And always with a robustly purposeful belt.

To be fair, I’m not sure if Rob’s always worn his trou so alarmingly aloft or whether, since morphing into ‘retiree’ status, it’s been more out of necessity due to the changes in his body-shape.

Regardless, I can’t help but smile when I catch sight of him over the back fence, digging away obliviously in the vege patch with his oversized corduroys yanked up nice and snug.  There’s just something endearing… a special ‘grandfather’ appeal, that brings on warm family memories and makes you almost feeeel the love.

You know?

Who wouldn’t wanna look this fashionably fab?

Indeed, the ageing process (and the heartless science that supports it) has a lot to answer for.

We tick merrily along minding our own business and before you know it, TING….you’ve arrived unwittingly at the mature, sensible-shoed stage of life.  Then, before you can say “pass the lamingtons please”… our once lithe and limber waistlines have become noticeably thickened.

Or in some cases, they’ve disappeared completely eeek!

Because fat is harder to budge like it was in the slinky, middle-aged career-building years when there was a lot of rushing about to be had.  Subsequently, with slowed-down metabolism from too much sitting about making shopping lists and tut-tutting about the youth of today, an elder’s torso can evolve into what’s considered ‘portly’ or become barrel-like instead.

Some older blokes (much like our Robert), take on this new physical development fairly positively, thank goodness.  They’re just relieved to be able to meld their newly created fatty layer into a nice protruding paunch.  Then, if they’re any good, they’ll find it enables them to wrench trousers up over this new formation like a natural built-in hitching post, if you will.

Alternatively, you’ll find other elderly gents may opt to ignore this ‘battle of the bulge’ by tightly clasping their belts in from underneath,  allowing one’s belly to flop leisurely out over the top of the belt-line yet still in the vicinity of where they think their waist should, by golly, still be.

Either way, win-win?

Hitch ’em up, Charlie!

Furthermore, while we are busy increasing in age and much worldly wisdom, our bodies start to progressively dwindle in muscle mass as well.  Crikey, can it get any worse?

Meaning the once sexy and toned definition we all once aspired to (and strived like ninnies our entire lives for), begins to diminish. Add to that a lessening bone density, then watch in awe as we then begin shrinking in height, thanks to our body basically collapsing into itself.

Yes, you heard…. COLLAPSING.

Throw in the nicely rounded butt that’s served a chap all his years, literally upping and disappearing almost overnight.  For goodness sake, it’s basically just a complete anatomical reversal of the changes that happened during puberty that turned us into adults in the first place!

But wait… THERE’S MORE!

Eventually, after a lifetime of all this standing about looking fabulous and ‘being a man’ (and when he’s finally admitted defeat and accepted this appalling entity of Retirement) a bloke’s spine now starts to buckle and bend until his body is baggy and saggy and then lo and behold, before he knows it…his bloody pant bottoms are now dragging on the ground.

WELL, BUGGER ME!

All that being said, and maybe because it happens so gradually, the changes in an older man’s stature can often go unrecognised.  Which means most of my male clients are happy as Larry continuing blithely on wearing the same trousers they’ve had, like, for-EVER.

Amusing though, are some of the excuses I hear from these denying Larries:

“Well, Dollie, I’ve worn these slacks since that Armstrong lad walked on the moon and never had any bother with them”

“Top quality pants these, not like the cheap foreign rubbish you get in the shops now”

“These trousers have lasted me 36 years as a copper on the beat, so why would I go changing them now?”

Besides, the focus now as it is for many adults of advanced years, is less on how they look in their clothes, than on more pertinent issues such as the managing of increasingly frequent health issues, the price of bread or more essentially… what the weather is doing tomorrow.

Can you can really judge a man’s age
by how far up his britches sit?

No!  Of course you can’t actually determine a man’s age based solely on how up-lifted he prefers to position his trousers!

Ageist, much?

Why, to do so would be the beginnings of a slippery discriminatory slope found insulting by older adults (the blokes in particular) – which thankfully nowadays, is considered quite unsavoury. However, for those of you playing along at home, it’s certainly easy to spot the more senior boys when they do yank ’em up so excessively.  Out and about in the community, bustling along with great purpose and leaving no room for doubt that the higher the pant – the more important their mission.

Be it a morning stroll to buy the newspaper or heading off with wheeled trolley in tow for a lap of the shops, or maybe another load of library books.  It doesn’t matter the quest, just as long as his dungarees are tugged up securely and with as much altitude as practicable.

So, if you’re one of these elderly dudes with The Incredible Shrinking Body who’s looking to correct the state of his seemingly enlarged trousers in a fashionable, yet dignified manner – it seems you have limited options:

  • Revive an old trend and use suspenders to hold up your pants (eliminates that poofy, puckered effect of a tightly clenched belt)
  • Admit defeat and consider wearing a sarong-type garment to emphasise your cultural side. Or maybe fly free n easy in a Scottish kilt for that ‘European-and-I-canny-care’ look?
  • Give the modern-day track pant a whirl (built in elastic totally eliminates the belt dilemma)
  • Face facts and get your pants altered by a tailor (or a wife if you still have one)
  • Stop being a tight-fisted bastard and splash out on some new slacks that fit you properly!

Or, if none of these appeal and you couldn’t care less about where your waistline might have run off to… then hoist those sails high, my good fellow, and continue blissfully wearing your trustworthy gabardines of yesteryear.

Who gives a toot what these young whipper-snappers say, as they swagger about with bum-cracks hanging out of their low-slung designer denims?!  You go right ahead and jack your nipple-cinching pantaloons up to your armpits if you fancy… right where they so magnificently belong.

All I know is, when I arrive at a new client’s home and I’m greeted at the door by yet another stereotypically-attired senior with his shirt tucked firmly into his slacks (or sometimes a pair of no-nonsense walk-shorts on warmer days) hoisted above and beyond, almost to chest height… for some reason it just makes me want to be even nicer.

NOW GET OFF MY LAWN!!!

Modern-day Superman 
Riding a lot lower (phew!)

HAPPY CARING!

Cheers, Dollie
Posted in Working with Elderly

RADIO: Helping the Elderly ‘Stay Tuned’ since 1947

“Oh, why won’t my wayward wireless stop whistling?”

But it’s making a funny noise, Dollie

Really, it’s of little surprise that most of the older adults I visit in their homes, enjoy listening to their radios. 

More specifically, those with deteriorating vision or being that they might be frail or unwell (with mobility often compromised), they can find themselves in their late Golden Years, no longer able to indulge in traditional media entertainment pleasures the rest of us hipsters take for granted.  

Vices such as watching television, reading a good book or wallowing for half a day with toast & coffee over the Sunday paper is simply no longer an option.  

Popping on the ‘wireless’ therefore makes perfect sense!

Not that they are missing much, surely? It seems telly these days is unrelenting with it’s bombardment of rubbish ‘reality’ shows targeted solely towards the younger more impressionable audience, thereby leaving bewildered seniors unable to relate and feeling overwhelmed at such bad taste and a definite absence of depth. 

(Big Brother, The Bachelor/Bachelorette, Love Island and that heinous ‘House Wives’ series spring to mind here)

Instead, having a nice string of yesteryear tunes crooning away on the radiogram in the front room, works beautifully to lift sullen moods and put some zing into a lonely or sometimes socially isolated pensioner’s day.  Memories of happy, more sprightly-er times are jogged by meaningful classics, as well as offering the much needed ‘company’ my clients might now be lacking.

“Hearing Vera Lynn always reminds me of my Edith and the times we used to sit in the back of the truck on our way to the dance at the town hall. Drinking home-made cider we’d nicked from my dad’s basement… we felt sooo naughty”

“…but that’s naughty in a good way, Dollie!”

Dame Vera Lynn 2019
Still a star… and still sporting a nice bit of red lippy
.

Talkback radio too, is ideal for supporting a forlorn or neglected senior through long periods of solitude and that despairing, yet understandable need for human interaction. They get to stay fully up to speed with the latest news and current affairs of the nation (usually in the middle of the night when they can’t sleep) plus share opinions and views with like-minded people of the same ilk.

“And, it’s great fun arguing the next day with Mavis and Lettie about the previous night’s topics.  Really gets the blood churning on a good day!”

Similarly, for some of my older gents who adore (and can’t live without) their daily infusion of Sport.  Sadly though, thanks to ‘old people’ medical conditions and the sheer exhaustion of it all, many have had to give up attending actual LIVE football games or cricket matches.  

To quote dear old 97-year old Bert with his ‘gammy leg and both me dicky knees’:

“The logistics alone would just about kill me, Dollie!”

Instead, he attaches himself to his little black transistor (circa 1972) via a pair of well-used nicotine-stained earplugs and lies back in his armchair to bellow at “that frigging umpire” until he nods off with the excitement of it all.

I have to say now (in a big loud voice), earplugs or headphones are a superbly handy device for a lot of the hearing-impaired elders I come across.  Needless to say, they’re also a godsend for the spouse (or the poor battered budgerigar) who otherwise gets stuck tolerating the din!

“Jeee-zuz, Ref…my wife’s gotten pregnant from less contact than that!”

If I turn that dial THIS way… then twist this knob THAT way….
Do you copy
?

OVER.

However… as marvellous and New-Age as all that is, I have other dear clients whom I help in their home, who can’t manage their broadcast transmissions to save themselves! 

And it doesn’t matter how ludicrously large the knobs on their radios are, or how basic the design or how seemingly straightforward the technology is to operate… THEY WILL STILL FIND A WAY TO STUFF UP THE SETTINGS!

Today for example, I arrived at 87-year old Bill Whistley’s home and as I walked up the path, I was hit with that adorable Guns & Roses melody ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ booming off the richter scale and making the crockery in Bill’s glass cabinet rattle.

“Blimmen ‘eck, I’ve tried fiddling with it, Dollie… but since I started my new pills, I’ve lost the feeling in my hands a bit. Can’t seem to land it on anything except THAT goddam racket.”

And in all the fluster, poor ol’ Bill decided to deal with the ear-splitting screams of Axel Rose the only way he knew how – by shutting all the doors and stowing himself away in his spare room.  It never occurred to him to just switch his radio off at the wall!  

“Oh, thank Heavens… you’ve ended the wickedness, Dollie!”

Yet Bill is not alone with his terror of the airwaves!  I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve walked into my client’s homes (I give up knocking as there’s literally NO CHANCE they can hear me) to find a brilliant selection of Hard Rock or Heavy Metal booming from within.  

Dollie to the rescue – check out some of these rippers!

**************************

“My house is so quiet during the daytime… it’s just nice to have something break the silence.  Mind you, be good if it were something I could whistle to”

(You mean you CAN’T whistle to Spiderbaits’ toe-tapping version of ‘Black Betty’?)

Oh the damn thing has a mind of its own. I set it on a nice bit of Sinatra but the next day it’s somehow flicked itself over and I’m left with that lot screeching at me!”

(Alice Cooper, anyone?)

Oh is it, Dollie? I hadn’t noticed… I thought I was listening to Roger Whittaker!”

(‘Eye of the Tiger’… good for what ails ya)

My son will be here later, I thought I’d leave it for him to sort out. Didn’t want to meddle in case I broke something. Plus it means I get to see him more often”

(Led Zeppelin at brekky time for a ‘Whole Lotta Love’)

“To be honest, Dollie… I’m deaf as a post so ANY noise is good”

(Just static was ‘playing’ in this lovely lady’s living room – LOUDLY)

What’s FM then? I thought it said ‘AM’ and ‘PM’. So I’ve been switching the dial once I’ve had my lunch, over to the ‘PM’ for the afternoon session. Wondered why the tunes suddenly got a bit rowdy!”

(Let’s just hope he doesn’t actually end up “Burning Down the House’)

It’s been begging for a fight all morning… I’d turn the dam contraption off if I knew how!”

(Yes, ‘Sexual Healing’ – always good for a bit of rough’n’tumble)

Bloody things been making that racket since I dropped it down the back of the bed/in the sink/onto the cat…”

(who DIDN’T get their kids to sleep with that lovely ‘Smoke on the Water’ lullaby?)

Death Metal, anyone?
(yes, that is a thing)

Let’s face it, as some smarty-pants from somewhere once said:  

“RADIO:  It’s like TV, only the pictures are better”.

Which is all very well and good – but it doesn’t really explain why I seem to be forever adjusting my clients’ knobs (ya godda love ’em!)


HAPPY CARING!

Cheers, Dollie
Posted in Scamming the Elderly

A Letter to a Scammer

Scams Against the Elderly are Going Unchecked in Our Suburbs

  • Too hard to prove!
  • Too sleazy to catch!
  • Leaving victims too embarrassed & too ashamed to report it!
We are NOT amused.

Dear ‘Tom’ the Tree Man (or whoever you are this week)

Firstly, thank you for kindly offering your Tree-felling services at the home of an elderly client of mine, Mrs Maria Popalotova, approximately six months ago.

Lovely Maria is a proud but humble, 89-year old Bulgarian-born lady who, although substantially vision-impaired, still lives alone in her large family home, stews her own fruit (from her very own garden) and as the neighbours can testify – sings soprano in FULL voice whilst doing the housework chores. Although suffering a smidge of arthritis and prone to the odd fall (understandable when you’re officially legally blind), she is still mostly independent and in damn good nick for an old girl.

Somehow, Tom, I suspect you may already have known some of this at the time?

In fact, Maria remarked to me not long after meeting you, that it was uncanny when you turned up on her doorstep one day, out of the blue, like you did. Straight after that huge storm we had; the one where horrific winds caused such massive destruction in her area.

Oh, what a godsend you were, Tom!

How else could Maria ever have realised the danger she was in with that large eucalyptus tree in her backyard leaning so perilously close to her bedroom window? 

And, as you so earnestly advised her, it would only take one more big wind like the week before – and it could literally DESTROY HER ENTIRE HOUSE, didn’t you say, Tom?  Crikey, Tom… you told Maria that THIS would happen:

REALLY, THIS?

And, therefore, it was imperative for Maria’s own safety, as you told her at the time, that the tree be removed IMMEDIATELY.

Oh, and what luck it was, Tom… that Maria had all that cash hidden away on the ledge above the kitchen stove, in her little secret teapot, the pretty white one with the pansies on it. Coincidentally, the precise amount you required to start the job, Tom – exactly $2000. What luck!

And a BARGAIN, you said, considering how the now terrified Maria’s life could literally be at stake if the teetering tree wasn’t removed by Friday. Why, it was pittance, really.

As you said, Tom, it would be foolish (and very “un-Australian”) NOT to pay you! And so she paid you willingly, Tom, because you were just so caring and concerned for her wellbeing.

Which is why Maria understood completely when you ever-so-politely insisted, that you have the cash up front to buy materials NOW.

IT WAS BECAUSE YOU CARED, TOM!

To be honest, finding people that actually do ‘care’ as much as you do, Tom, is pretty thin on the ground these days. Especially after hearing all these dreadful stories about elderly people being scammed by all sorts of dodgy tradesmen and fake utility servicemen. 

Innocent elders who are conned out of money that they’ve saved up during their working lives; nest-eggs for retirement enabling them to enjoy their golden years; or just money set aside for increased medical costs due to the inevitable health issues associated with ageing.

And then there’s the appalling fraudsters, the lowest of the low, who just randomly turn up at people’s doors, unscrupulously offering so-called urgent maintenance of phone, gas or power lines.

Because nobody DARES mess with a potentially broken one of these. 

As a scare tactic – IT’S PERFECT!  

Then there’s the scoundrels posing as contractors who scope out neighbourhoods, watching for lonely and vulnerable older adults who, desperate for company, are more than happy to believe the “nice man” at their front door. 

And that these ‘necessary’ property repairs, such as broken roof tiles, brickwork, cracked concrete paths, driveways or garden maintenance – are absolutely genuine.

Come to think of it, Tom, a bit like the work you offered to do for Maria, wasn’t it?

It’s actually quite sad (and scary) to think that innocent senior citizens living alone are such easy targets to these con artists, merely because they TRUST people. 

Such a nasty world out there, Tom, when you think about it… to know that someone could sink that low?

Nothing dodgy about this van.
No! Not a thing…

And I’m sure it wasn’t your fault you were delayed, Tom. 

As Maria said, you probably had a lot of other work in the area that needed doing, too. In fact, it was only a few weeks back when she said she thought you would return any day now. That you and your little unmarked yellow van would pull into her driveway with all the special equipment needed to get that pesky tree down before it did any major damage.

SHE STUCK BY YOU, TOM!

Even when the contact details on your most professional-looking business card came back with ‘number not in service’…. she still had faith that you’d honour your word. Maria actually worried about you, Tom, and she hoped that nothing bad had happened to you.

Isn’t that sweet?

Funny thing about the big allegedly ‘dangerous’ gumtree, and perhaps you were looking at it from the wrong angle, Tom? But a man from the council came to check it out the other day and confirmed that the it could never have been a threat to Maria’s home. Even if it did fall over – it just wasn’t big enough!

Strange, huh?

Sadly, Tom, in the last month or so, I have noticed a change in dear Maria. She is so much quieter than she used to be; she seems fearful and she’s lost a lot of her confidence and now relys on outside help with her daily routine more than she ever used to.

It’s painful to watch her become this way, Tom – almost as if she has given up on, well… PEOPLE?

Definitely hard to believe she’s the same bubbly lady who once sang (with gusto!) in the shower, bottled her own nectarines and enjoyed social bus trip outings with the local Golden-Agers club. 

Instead she prefers to just stay at home alone.  And just sit. 

Her family now worry because Maria has become so frail and unwell that she can clearly no longer cope by herself. 

Just… heart-breaking.

Anyway, wherever you are, Tom… thanks so much again for all you’ve done.  I heard only last Friday, that Maria’s home had been sold and she has since been re-located into an aged-care facility situated miles away from the life and the people she once knew and loved.

So in the meantime, one question… sorry, Tom. I know you’re such a busy and important man and all…

Would you mind if some devious little sleaze-ball did this to YOUR dear old Mum?!?!

Yours in disgust, 

(On behalf of beautiful, broken Maria)

Dollie Dogood

And she’s very, very cross!


Posted in Aged Care, Respect

The Wooden Bowl

Just a nice story about Compassion & Respect

“I guarantee you will remember this tale of The Wooden Bowl, a week from now, a month from now, a year from now…

A big bad BOWL

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old grandson. The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. Every night, the family ate together at the table.

Unfortunately, the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped his glass, he always spilled milk on the tablecloth. The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess.

“We must do something about my father,” said the son. ‘I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.”

The husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, Grandfather would eat alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner at the big table. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl. If the dropped the bowl, it would clatter with a loud noise, but at least it would not break.

This went on for some time. When the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food. The four-year-old watched it all in silence. 

One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, “What are you making?”

Just as sweetly, the boy responded, “Oh, I am making a little wooden bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up.” The four-year-old smiled and went back to work. 

The words so struck the parents that they were speechless. They looked at each other, and felt a cold sensation wash over them. Though no words were spoken, both knew they had acted poorly and needed to take action. 

That evening the husband took Grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

<Author Unknown>

*************************

“On a positive note, I’ve learned that, no matter what happens, how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles four things:  a rainy day, the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a ‘life’.

I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

I’ve learned that you shouldnt go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back sometimes.

I’ve learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you.  But if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others, your work and doing the very best you can – happiness will find you.

I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decisions.

I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I dont have to be one.

I’ve learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone.  People love that human touch; holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.”

Pesky, trouble-making peas…

HAPPY CARING!

Cheers,
Dollie


Posted in Aged Care, Working with Elderly

Lovely Lips for Lois

Love amongst the Lipsticks?

I witnessed the most perfect display of selfless and unconditional love today.  An unexpected, yet beautifully-presented scene that just randomly played out before me – in a rotten old Target store, of all places.

And while I’m pleased that I happened upon such a thought-provoking little interlude, I’m also doubly chuffed that I managed to snap a very nice photo of it as well. Working in the aged-care industry, I’ve long since realised the value of capturing the special moments as they come along – no matter how inconsequential they might seem at the time.

A picture is worth a thousand words, don’t they say?  

I hope you’ll find this heart-warming piccy, which I’ve saved ’til the end of my story (hee hee because I can), worthy of being talked about.

In the meantime, a picture of some cheeky looking Galahs to tide you over:

Who’s a pretty boy then?

Let me set the scene:

Firstly, and you may not know this, but shopping centres during the week days, transform into what can only be described as the perfect pensioners paradise!

Yes, indeedy. For while the rest of us are off being dutifully occupied at work or school (or ‘other’), teams of opportunistic Retirees get to roam freely in herd-like fashion throughout the malls.  Albeit a silver-haired, slowwww moving herd – but a herd all the same.

Hey, they’ve got the time – why shouldn’t they make a day of it?

Chatting leisurely with other like-minded Golden-Agers, casually pushing trolleys or towing low-maintenance free-wheeled trolley devices… they get their errands run unhindered, unflustered and un-rushed. Enjoying the shopping experience safely at their own pace and without judgement or pressure from any of us raucous unruly lot, thank you very much.

Not to mention packing out cafes and teashops to the brim when it’s half-time and they’re primed for the proverbial nice hot cuppa.  (Cream cake too, if blood sugar meds allow it).

Fear not though, for by the time we self-appointed important people all barrel into the shops and the supermarkets to hunt and gather for the family din-dins, these older folk are long gone.  Back at home, unpacked and un-shoed…they’ve completed their quests and are now poised in recliners awaiting the next thrilling instalment of Family Feud.

Yet, here I found myself today, thanks to a late cancellation, breaking all of society’s sacred unwritten rules… I decided to make an impromptu visit to my local shopping centre.

And as I stood in the Toiletries aisle languishing in such mid-morn freedom, deliberating on whether to go the strawberry or the vanilla flavoured lip balm (it’s a tough life), I could hear a softly-spoken male voice at the cosmetics section behind me.  Upon changing my angle, I saw it was an older gent with white hair standing alongside what was evidently his matching elderly wife in a wheelchair. 

With stiff stooped shoulders and her wasted hands lay motionless in her lap, she clearly had serious health problems (I speculated she may’ve had a stroke or maybe MS, but hard to really know).  However, that wasn’t an issue for this pair who, oblivious to me and my life-threatening lip balm dilemma, were focused on choosing lipsticks.

And even more fortunately for her, I thought – her husband was doing it spectacularly!

“Honey Beige, Melting Melon, Glazed Caramel… what the heck?  Some of these colours, Lois… sounds more like food to me.  That reminds me, we’ll do the groceries after this”.

Lovely-sounding-hubby was now donning his reading specs in order to decipher the ridiculously teeny tiny writing found on most lippys.  A man on a mission and with no shop assistant in sight, he clearly felt at ease in what was typically a woman’s domain.  Regardless of her health state, his wife was still a lady and therefore there was no reason in the world why she shouldn’t maintain the beauty regimes that allowed her to feel feminine and ‘normal’.   

“Pink Opal… Berry Beauty… Flushed Fuchsia.  But they’re ALL pink!  There’s just such a lot to pick from, Lois.  And I was thinking ‘pink’ was just PINK!”

In my head I had to agree…. STUPID SAME-COLOURED LIPSTICKS!

Pink, Pink – YOU STINK!

“Nude Mauve!”

“Erotic Blush!”

“Ravishing Rose!”

“Good gracious me, darling… a bit naughty-sounding some of them, might be a bit much?”

I laughed out loud at this comment, nearly blowing my cover but managed to change position while edging closer to the action.

“Here, let’s try this one, Lois.  Forever Precious it’s called… that’s definitely you my darling.  And it’s such a pretty pink.”

As Lois sat motionless, in her purely supervisory capacity, her adoring spouse crouched down before her to apply yet another shade of pink to the back of his wife’s lifeless hand.  They’d obviously been at it for a while because they seemed to have the routine down pat.  He would mark her skin for testing, pause to stand back and admire, then discuss yes? Or no? (with himself) before a gentle wipe with the tissue in preparation for the next one. 

So, yes by now I was melting on the inside – it was just gorgeous to watch!

“This Smokey Pearl one here… that’ll match your new pink blouse, Lois. The one we bought for Bryce’s graduation.  But let’s get the Charming Coral one as well.  Just in case, yes?”

Apparently, Lois could speak but it must’ve been only just, as he had to lean his ear right into her face to hear her.

“Ha ha yes!  ‘Charming’ – just like me!  Ha ha ha… good one, darling”

Brilliant! Lois was being silly too!

“Here’s one…Spiced Coffee.  Oh, for goodness sake, Lois!  How about we have a think about it all and go get some ‘spiced coffee’ of our own at that nice café over there; they might have some ‘glazed caramel’ we can chew on too.  What fun!”

As they wheeled off out of the shop, I couldn’t see Lois’s face, but I felt sure she would be smiling and thoroughly enjoying herself.  Having such a kind and genuinely loving man by her side, helping her choose lipsticks no less.

WHAT MAN DOES THAT?!

And how he spoke to her…. the way he interacted with her!  Such patience and grace, the undeniable care and commitment he showed for his dear disabled wife; it was truly truly admirable. 

In fact, I had no doubt that Lois, in her sad wheely-bound existence, thanks to this sweet and devoted man – got to smile every single day of her life .

Now, as promised——- the photo to end all photos!  

ENJOY.

A Thousand Words.

HAPPY CARING!

Cheers, Dollie
Posted in Aged Care, Working with Elderly

The Lighter Side of Working in Aged Care

“It’s all fun and games… until someone loses their bladder!”

Laughing and Leaking
– both easier to do the older we get

I’ve noticed lately that a lot of jobs advertised in the Aged-Care sector are now listing ‘sense of humour’ as one of the more desirable personal characteristics required from potential applicants.

Right up there alongside the usual skill-set buzzwords: compassion, empathy… yadda yadda… time-management, communication, etc etc etc it seems that a lot of Care providers are now recognising the merit to be gained in employing Support Workers who are capable of seeing the lighter side of their roles.

Not that we ‘funny-bunnies’ don’t consider our work with older adults as meaningful or important. Ahhh no, quite the opposite.  In fact, more is the case where those who CAN have a laugh (and don’t feel they have to take everything so seriously all the time), end up with far greater job satisfaction as a consequence of receiving such fabulous positive feedback from their much-amused clients!  

Because there’s little doubt how beneficial humour can be when meeting an elderly client – especially for that harrowing first time.  Not meaning you need to perform party tricks or stand on your head and act the clown. More just in understanding your client; seizing those unexpected instances as they occur and utilising them to develop a good happy, healthy relationship.

You know… tell them the silly story about your wheelbarrow at home with the dicky wheel or how your new kitten got into your knitting bag and found itself tangled in a ball of red yarn under the sofa – and then let them share similar humorous anecdotes with you.

We all know that there’s nothing like a good ol’ laugh to improve overall wellbeing, to strengthen friendships or just to promote a jolly good mood.

Are we having fun yet?

So, as a care-worker in your client’s home, merely being observant and discovering what interests your client has, understanding what makes them tick… can make it a heck of a lot easier for you to change tactics if required, and direct your game plan accordingly.

As a coping strategy, too, an intuitive carer should also understand the benefits of how a funny story, or a witty one-liner can be tactfully used to distract an ageing adult who is clearly agitated that you have arrived at their home in the first place. They’ve decided in advance that they won’t like you and therefore will be totally resistant to your charms. No matter what!

“I DON’T NEED YOUR HELP, MISSY!”

In my experience, discretely changing the subject, injecting a fresh but genuine perspective into the conversation can diffuse most potential challenging behaviour before it gets a chance to gather momentum.

Just by sharing a refreshingly waggish viewpoint in a senior’s often mundane existence can be enough to crack even the hardest of old nuts (yes, a lukewarm smile still counts).  Achieve this and you’ll gain trust and win them over before they’ve had a chance to realise how much they actually DO like you after all.

The awkwardness of nudity at shower time is always a good test of a carer’s inter-personal communication skills. But be brave, just chat away and show how you thoroughly enjoy the company of your new NAKED client, ever so much!

In fact, I’m often surprised, how even the most insignificant occurrence or absurdity, can turn a stilted situation into a side-splitting laugh feast in an instant!

Take my new client from yesterday morning: a frail and reluctant 91-year old Gladys Liverspot. Obviously already annoyed and feeling quite indignant that “my-regular-girl-Angie” was not available to help her shower – she’d been informed by the office that she was stuck with me instead.

Oh, I’d attempted to initialise conversation for sure. I was bubbly… yet professional. I showed genuine interest in the brand new kitchen cupboards she’d just had installed. Plus, I’d admired the heck out of her grandson’s never-ending pile of wedding photos.

But as we progressed through her showering routine I got nothing back from Gladys.  Instead, she seemed damned determined to remain cool and aloof.

That is, until it came time to wash her ‘lady bits’ and, as I do, I asked Gladys if she wanted help with that.

“Oh, you mean my Fanny-by-Gaslight!” 

Well, that was it!  Such a random unexpected thing to hear a little old lady say – I cracked up big time.

And blow me down… Gladys clearly LOVED me for it!  In fact, she joined in too!

Seemingly, my hysterical response to her quirky turn of phrase was just the reaction Gladys needed to accept me into her world.  It showed her that I understood her; that I was on her wave-length. I was someone who could appreciate her inanely dated comment and therefore I was worthy to be part of her day.

Before I left (and still giggling like schoolgirls), I was rewarded with a nice cuppa and the ginger crunch slice that Gladys usually reserved for her special visitors.

So there! Take that, “My-regular-girl-Angie”...!!!

Sometimes I laugh so hard
– the tears run down my leg !!!

Ironically too, there are days where laughing at yourself can be all that keeps you sane.  Nothing like putting your foot in it with a slip of the ol’ verbal faux-pas; those unintentional moments when you haven’t thunk before you’ve opened your gob. 

Here’s a couple of my finest:

Offering left-arm amputee Sheila Greensleeves to help wipe down her bench top… “Can I give you a hand with that?”

Or saying “Gee that IS a big one!” …  the exact same moment Terry Wang drops his tweeds at shower time (I was actually referring to the giant mutant cactus plant towering outside his bathroom window, truly I was)

And just out of habit, to my new and totally bald-headed client, Jim Wiggington… Are we washing your hair today, Sir?”

As soon as I pop these humdingers out – I kick myself.  But at the same time, it shows I’m only human and, as unbelievable as it may seem, I make mistakes too.  Thankfully, all my clients (thus far) have forgiven me whenever I’ve let slip and more often than not, we end up having a bit of a cackle about it as well.

It’s all in the way you handle the situation and anyway, they know it was not intended.  I’m just happy that my dear clients can relax enough and feel at ease around me to have a laugh in the first place.

“Oh Dollie, you are a ONE”, they say.

And I guess I am.

Reciprocally, I love those unexpected humorous one-offs that my clients can spring on me, too!

Incidental quips they throw in along the way like an off-the-wall remark that takes you by surprise and makes you realise that being old, doesn’t necessarily mean you are any less witty than the rest of the wacky world.

And you are most certainly not laughing AT your clients; you are laughing either with them or it’s just the situation at the time when something comical has occurred.

Like the time I was applying skin lotion to the legs of a very fragile and diminutive, Mr Eddie Shuffleboard.

Sitting patiently on the edge of his bed one morning, I squatted in front of Eddie, fiddling about with the pair of most unyielding compression stockings versus his clammy freshly-moisturised skin (the bloody things never want to play nice).  After several minutes battling away, huffing and puffing all the way, I finally managed to wrench the stockings into position on Eddie’s legs.

VICTORY SHALL BE MINE !!

From the sheer exhaustion of it all, I then went to plonk myself on the bed beside him. As I landed on what had to be the world’s most ultra-springiest single mattress, like a stunt gone wrong out of Cirque du Soleil… up poor old Eddie went BOINGGGG!  Catapulted straight into the air he ended up falling squarely onto my knee in a position similar to a toddler sitting on his mother’s lap.

Then, without missing a beat, Eddie announces with the cheekiest smile on his face:

We really have to stop meeting like this, Dollie!” 

Surely one of the most hilarious (and perfectly timed) moments I’ve experienced on the job and after chuckling our way through the rest of the shift, it was locked in that Eddie and I were to be bestest of buddies from then on.

So, don’t feel guilty about enjoying the funny side of your client’s antics or worry that you’re being disrespectful or insensitive to their needs…OH MY GOD, YOU DON’T CARRRRRE!

Because of course you do.

Will we laugh about it later?

And don’t forget, encouraging laughter during a tense or delicate moment can actually offer relief to a fraught pensioner who may find solace in seeing you appear so calm and unflappable.

Embarrassing little interludes too, can have the edge sliced off them with a nifty bit of light relief.

Like the time I went to assist the delightful 94-year old Reggie Windbottom out of his armchair, just as he let rip an extremely loud FART that startled us both and made his trusty Border Collie leap up onto the couch.

“Outside, Wally!” Reg and I both bellowed at the same time. (If in doubt, blame the dog).

Oh my, how we laughed!

But most of all, and because it reminds me a lot of my own grandfather and the funny stories he used to tell us growing up… I love it how some of my elderly gents (hardly ever the ladies it seems) have a wide-ranging repertoire of good old-fashioned punchlines that they love to rattle off whenever you visit.

For example, here’s a couple of pearlers from 92-year old Dermot O’Farrell, one of my favourite yarn-spinners.  Of course, his Irish accent makes them that much funnier – even better when he has his teeth in!

Did you hear about Bruce who lost his whole left side? He’s all RIGHT now.

What do you call a fly with no wings? A walk.

What time did Bob go to the dentist? Tooth hurt-y.

A mushroom walks into a bar and orders a drink. The bartender tells him to get out.  The mushroom says, “But why… I’m a fun-guy?!”

A blind man walks into a bar….and a table… and a chair… and a door… and and and…

To conclude folks, laughter may not be the best (and only) medicine your elderly client has to take, but if you can lift spirits by slipping a bit of jocularity into their day, it’s a grand way to start.

As the irrepressible Dermot so eloquently likes to put it: “If you can’t have a good laugh at yourself – then you’re just a miserable old sod!”

HAPPY CARING!

Cheers,
Dollie
Posted in Aged Care, Working with Elderly

When Old Dogs… Learn New Cooking Tricks

What the bloody hells a Pommy-granitt when it’s at home?

Pomegranate earrings
– a wardobe essential?

I’ve been having some interesting discussions with my elderly clients lately – and it’s all about FOOD.

In particular, are the seniors who’ve realised it’s getting harder and harder to ignore the presence of all the bizarre, weirdly-shaped fruit & veg on trend and on display at the supermarkets at the moment.  

With elbows leaned furtively on shopping carts they drift nonchalantly down the aisles, the majority with little idea what these new species are, what they ‘do’ or how to even peel one. Suffice to say, there’s little chance they’ll be cooking with them any time soon!  

Off the top of my head there’s kale, pomegranates, avocados (the smashing of) and the phenomena known as “keen-wah” ie: quinoa – just to name a few that appear to be causing angst among my Over 70’s mob. 

Advised by their GPs or concerned family members (and splashed all over the lifestyle mags)… that these peculiar so-called ‘Superfoods’ are packed full of disease-fighting goodies. And that by consuming these natural beauties, elders decrease the probability of developing chronic illness, rehabilitate faster if they do, and subsequently, increase their chances of living forever.  

WIN-WIN-WIN!

BLUEBERRIES
– super-food for super-chooks!

Which got me thinking that not only is it ‘technology stuff’ that an older adult is pressured to learn about and understand in today’s frantically progressive world.

It’s also about what we EAT.

Having grown up in arguably more frugal times (where food wasn’t permitted to be the obsession that it is now), it’s understandable why the mature-ager might find some of the latest meal trends confusing and intimidating. People are living for longer that’s true, but it’s a scientific fact that age-related health issues such as diabetes, stroke or heart disease (conditions that would have once knocked you off in your 60’s) are now being managed more efficiently, purely by what we stick in our mouths.

Unfortunately along the way… food over-sensitivity, allergies and intolerances have also become commonplace and it’s been a huge learning curve for many ‘old-school’ folk to not only embrace the modern ideals toward the food they eat, but to accept that their own health may be in jeopardy if they don’t.

Noticeable too, are the strange codes added to the menus of our favourite restaurants nowadays. Shown as GF, LF or V for example, these nifty symbols offer the dine-outer all sorts of solutions to their dietary dilemmas. Although they may baffle some who are afraid to ask and feel it’s easier just to stick their heads in their Vine-RipenedTomato, Roast Bell Pepper & Basil soup than have to ‘get with the times’ and figure it all out.  

No such thing as a Nut Allergy when we were kids. Oh, except when I first met my Douggie at the school dance – he was nutty alright!”

How can being a Vegetarian be good for you? Eating too many greens… GIVES ME THE SQUIRTS!”

Special Dietary Requirement? That’s me making sure I have a wine with dinner!”

Not sure about this ‘organic food’ thing… in my day, it was just called FOOD”

Gluten-free, you say. So, I have to eat less glutes?!?!”

Not to mention all the latest cookbooks encouraging us to replace the tried-and-true ingredients of our classic recipes with slinkier, nutrient-laden alternatives. Gone are the days where a lump of meat (“whatever’s on special, dear”) is bunged into the oven in a layer of lard with a wheelbarrow-load of salt tipped over it to enhance flavour! 

Instead, poor old Mum, has had to haul herself out of her lifelong culinary comfort zone to produce such delights as a zucchini & feta fritter, organic eggplant fries and get her head around long lanky limbs of broccolini… steamed for 23 seconds (no-more, no less) for her son’s pretty, but pedantic Vegan yoga-instructor fiancee.

The Art of Murdering BROCCOLI

No longer can she happily enjoy the spitting of lamb chops as they fry unmercilessly on the stove top as she did in ye olden days either. Ah no!  They must be eased gently under the grill and then delicately dabbed at repeatedly with a roll of triple-ply paper towels to ensure every last dot of oil has been safely extracted.

DON’T MAKE ME FAT!

She then has to skill-up on the magic of the ‘shop and chop’ – buying, and then dicing great sprigfuls of fresh herbs, fancy-schmancy spices and hearty wholesome marinades (please, no additives!) in the quest to present modern adaptations of traditional feasts to her fussy grown-up family.  

Which can be bloody hard work when Mama has a dicky knee, arthritic hands and poor eyesight!

But, as a carer on the go, I do find it exciting and hugely inspiring when some of my tentative, yet inquisitively brave clients at least give it a go. Seizing this new ‘foodie’ adventure by it’s entrails and taking an active interest in managing their own health with all the exotic, albeit daunting-looking food choices they can now make.  

And even more impressively – is the trendy cooking techniques they’ve learnt to whip it all together!

One of my clients, for example, 90 year old Bert Walloven is a lovely chap who nearly fell to bits living on just boiled egg & fish paste crackers, after his wife died last year. However, he pulled himself up by his apron strings and found new vigour in teaching himself how to bake Banana Loaf in a super posh bread-maker appliance he found at the back of ‘the wife’s’ pantry. 

Every Tuesday afternoon when I visit Bert now, he insists I make time before I leave, for a compulsory taste test of a slice of his latest creation. Ahh yes, any excuse for a cuppa and a chat! None of your plain boring bready rubbish either – last week it was Pumpkin Bread with honey oat and cranberry chunks. 

Delish!

Bake it up, Bert!

Interesting to note, I find the biggest motivator for my elders to climb aboard the Superfood train and include more fresh raw ingredients in their diet, is the possibility that it lessens the chances of them developing Alzheimer’s disease.  Whether that’s true or only slightly true-ish… (and it can’t hurt) it seems many seniors, terrified of ‘losing their marbles’, will go to great lengths to prevent this from happening by doing whatever it takes to maintain the health of their minds.

Indeed, it turns out that you CAN teach a dog of more advanced years new tricks! It merely depends on whether the old Golden Retriever in question is willing (and open-minded enough), to give the tricks a go.

We all feel nervous when it comes to trying new things – of course we do! A fear of failure, feeling unsafe and exposed, or the big one… looking silly in front of others. And with this traditionalist Boomer generation, it’s understandable why they’d stubbornly opt to stay with the mindset that they’ve already made it through the obstacles of life; they’ve come through the War living on sausage meat and sawdust.  They’ve acquired all the learning needed for survival so “there’s nothing more I need to know, thank you very much!”  

A perspective that sadly means the ability to grow (and thrive) by learning new tricks and empowering themselves with new lifestyle choices that might just allow them ito live longer and live BETTER, gets lost in the despair and gloominess of  ‘being old’.  

Instead sitting in their recliners, watching life pass them by with a rug over their knees, and beans on toast or a mug of oxtail soup for dinner yet again, is as tricky as they can cope with. Now, shut the damn gate and get off my lawn!

Which, thankfully, is NOT the case for Bert and his Breadmaster 2000!  

Lovely Bert informs me his latest project is a wholemeal caramel, apple & quinoa Pecan Loaf. And “just for fun”, it’s also going to involve (winkity, wink)… A RUM SWIRL.

Oh yes, roll on next Tuesday!

Arrrrh, ’tis true, Me Hearties

HAPPY CARING!

Cheers,
Dollie