Posted in Aged Care, health issues, Working with Elderly

The Hard, Dry, Flaky Facts of Ageing Skin

It seems the SKIN… that I’m IN… is terribly, terribly… THIN!”

Ever wondered why you never see a loofah brush, exfoliating mitt, nor any other type of abrasive body-scrubbing device in a mature person’s bathroom? That’s excluding the mandatory piece of dried-up pumice stone once used to file corns and callouses from busy, hard-working feet of a lifetime ago.

Well, there’s good reason for it apparently.  Summed up perfectly by 89 year old Elizabeth Waterduck as I chatted to her during her shower last week:  

“At my age? Crikey, I’d end up skinned alive like a Chinese dog if I used one of those now!”

Understandably, for most of the older peeps I visit in their homes, their skin is a fairly pertinent issue.  They know only too well that if something new or unusual appears on their outer – there’s a darn good chance that something more threatening may be happening on their inner.

Physiological changes such as connective tissue breakdown, the lessening of elastin and collagen production, a limited ability to retain moisture, plus an increasingly slower metabolism in general – all contribute to the breakdown of our skin’s integrity as we age.  

And as a consequence of this dermal deterioration, we then get to watch in despair as the inevitable creases, folds and ridges creep leisurely onto our skin’s surface to create that familiar ‘old person’ look…

Come on, sing it with me now:  WRINKLES!

Throw in the exhaustion of the juicy subcutaneous fat layer beneath, too, means the natural oils which once protected us from damage and gave skin it’s firm, voluptuous appearance – are depleted.  Thus leaving some elders with a moisture-less, thinned barrier that’s vulnerable to anything untoward.

Oh yes, defences by this stage, can most definitely be down!  

Understandably, with skin that’s as delicate and translucent as Lizzy Waterduck’s, the last thing she’d consider doing as part of her shower routine, even if she might have done it regularly in her carefree middle-aged years… is to slough off yet another (possibly the last?) layer from her precious epidermal.

Of course, other contributing factors such as lifestyle, genetics and diet can also throw skin balance right out of whack.  Interestingly, one of the major roles of our outer dermis is to maintain the body’s natural thermostat.  Which explains why so many seniors, I swear, seem to spend most of their days grumbling how cold they are, even in the height of a summer heatwave.

“Brrrr… shut the dam door, girlie!”

Progressing into our ‘twilight’ years, too, means we might also get to grow unsightly skin tags, unflattering strangely-shaped moles and, prevalent on the backs of hands, balding heads, ears, arm, noses and necks… are the brownish-coloured ‘liver’ or sun spots we stereotypically associate with someone ‘being old’. 

These annoying tell-tale blemishes are a result of spending entire lives being hat-less and factor-less for long periods exposed to the outside elements.  And declaring “but we didn’t know any better”, does nothing to fix the skin damage already caused.  

Sadly, it doesn’t matter how much sunscreen grandad coats himself in now, it’s a case of too-little too-late for these old timers.

Ahhh good times…
Good skin-destroying times!

And there are other less than delightful skin conditions we become more predisposed to as we age.   Dermatitis, eczema and pruritis are afflictions which are all identifiable with dry, ageing skin and will continue to drive itchy, older folk to reach for the tried-and-true camomile lotion by the gallon.

But flaky, scaly skin is a bad thing when you’re in your advanced years because when skin has become so dry that it’s now irritated and cracking open, there is opportunity galore for serious infection to enter and perilously thrive it’s head off.

With immunity already compromised in sick or frail seniors or those suffering with pre-existing health complaints, the skin, whose job as the built-in protection layer stopping the big bad germ-laden world from entering our bodies and making us unwell, becomes weakened and unable to hold ground when it’s really needed most.

A seemingly small injury to a mature-ager’s cutaneal areas (even the slightest scratch), if not treated appropriately, can easily lead to serious complications and a much longer recovery time leaving an elder either in hospital… or in a very, very bad mood!

Indeed, depending on the state of it – our skin can quite literally mean the difference between life and death!  

More significantly for an anxious pensioner, it can also mean the difference between remaining at home or being despatched to live in an aged-care facility… ie: the dreaded nursing home.

Fresh flaps – most important!

I get to observe a lot of skin, in varying condition, when I visit my clients at this stage of their lives. Assisting them to shower and maintain regular hygiene habits is integral to self-esteem, dignity and indicative to the rest of the world (ie: suspicious adult children) that they’re still capable of living independently.

And although not medically trained, an experienced carer can become quite astute in recognising symptoms of potential health issues, merely by observing the condition or noting even slight changes in a naked senior’s skin – especially at shower time.

Bruises, for example, can be discovered during Personal Care shifts and might be the result of a fall, walking into the coffee table – or possibly from something more sinister? A quick mention here regarding Elder Abuse and that ALL suspicions of such should be reported immediately and without hesitation.

Haematoma (bruising) can look dreadful on pale older skin and thanks to sluggish metabolisms, may take months to totally heal and fade. Not helped by certain medications used to control inflammatory conditions common in old age (stiff joints, arthritis, COPD, diabetes etc) which, as a pesky side-effect, can leave seniors exceptionally prone to bruising.  

Such as one of my clients, 79 year old Hilary Crabtree who relies on steroidal drugs to control symptoms of her advancing emphysema.  These powerful meds offer a fabulous quality of life and are literally life-saving for someone like Hilary.  

More importantly (she informs me), they allow her to be top of her game on the golf course!  

BUT… it was discovered recently, that Hilary’s skin had in fact become so thinned and susceptible to even the slightest touch that something as flimsy as the seam on her new golf slacks is enough to cause extensive black and blue marks down both her shins.  

I mean, did you EVER?

Bruises on your SHIN
You don’t want to GRIN

For obvious reasons, assisting a senior to wash their outer body involves common sense, a good bit of empathy and patience… plus a WHOLE LOTTA care and attention.  Jagged fingernails or solid objects such as jewellery, rings etc can inflict catastrophic damage to paper-thin skin – and often with very minimal force applied.

Cringe-worthy is the story about a carer once who, worrying about getting to her next job on time, ripped an enormous gash in her client’s calf while attempting to yank up his support hose (commonly used to control circulation in the lower limbs). In her haste, she hadn’t realised the tag on the garment had accidentally embedded itself into the poor old gent’s skin which then sliced deeply all the way up his leg as she pulled.

Ohhhh, THE HUMANITY!

Which explains why some of my more delicate ladies fear using even a standard flannel or wash cloth that the rest of us ruffians take for granted.  Instead, they prefer to wash with a tiny square of baby muslin or light-weight sponge, both of which seem so floaty and flimsy – you wonder if it’s worth bothering! 

There’s certainly no RUBBING or SCRUBBING involved.  Just a lot of gentle circles and tender dabbing to ensure their sensitive aged skin is left suitably cleansed, and more importantly – unbroken.

Thankfully, it turns out that the older we get, the less cleansing our skin actually requires!  With retirement marking an inevitable slump in physical activity, there are now far less occasions to get a big ‘sweat-up’ like we once might have.  Common thought now is that it’s more than adequate for a senior to instead shower every other day (or less), thereby allowing natural oils in the skin a chance to replenish and build resistance against all the nasties.

“And so I can get my GLOW on!” 

As one of my lovelies, Gladys Gigglestick, proudly preaches.

Funnily enough, Gladys swears by sweet almond oil as her choice of shower time lather – and NEVER soap. 

“Because soap is just too harsh and leaves me dry, rashy and itchier than an old man’s tweed vest”. 

Which is fair enough when you’re 95 and you’ve been in this bathing game long enough to know!  Admittedly, the almond oil (which smells devinely like Christmas pudding) does leave Gladys’ skin noticeably well-nourished and ever so moisty.  

Although, when she holds my arm stepping out of the shower, I have to make sure I plant my feet firmly to keep us both steady… blimmen ‘eck, she’s as shiny and slippery as an eel!

HAPPY CARING!

Cheers,
Dollie



Posted in Aged Care, Working with Elderly

Cranky Old Man – a poem

What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?
What are you thinking .. . when you’re looking at me?
A cranky old man, . . . . . .not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . .. with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food .. . … . . and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice . .’I do wish you’d try!’

Who seems not to notice . . .the things that you do.
And forever is losing . . . . . .. . . A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not . . . … lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding . . . .The long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking?. .Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse .you’re not looking at me.

I’ll tell you who I am . . . . .. As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, .. . . . as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of Ten . .with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .. . . .. . who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen . . . .. with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now . . .. . . a lover he’ll meet.

A groom soon at Twenty . . . ..my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows .. .. .that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now . . . . .I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . .. . . . . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . .. With ties that should last.

At Forty, my young sons .. .have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me . . to see I don’t mourn.
At Fifty, once more, .. …Babies play ’round my knee,
Again, we know children . . . . My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me . . . . My wife is now dead.
I look at the future … . . . . I shudder with dread.

For my young are all rearing .. . . young of their own.
And I think of the years . . . And the love that I’ve known.
I’m now an old man . . . . . . .. and nature is cruel.
It’s jest to make old age . . . . . . . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone . . . where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells,
And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells
I remember the joys . . . . .. . I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living . . . . . . . life over again.
I think of the years, all too few . . .. gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact . . . that nothing can last.

So open your eyes, people .. . . . .. . . open and see.
Not a cranky old man .
Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. …. . ME

– Originally ‘Crabbit Old Woman’ by Phyllis McCormack (1966); adapted by Dave Griffith

Reflections…

HAPPY CARING!

Cheers,
Dollie

Posted in Aged Care, Working with Elderly

10 Tips for Meeting an Older Adult at their Home for the First Time

An Aged-Care Worker’s Guide

Knocking on the front door of a newly-assigned elderly person’s home for that very first time is always an anxious few seconds, but understandably even more nerve-racking if you are a newbie to this ‘caregiver’ caper.

In fact, I recall many years ago the day of my first shift ever… standing at the top of the steps, staring at a stranger’s doorbell (of someone I would shortly be helping undress for their shower) and wondering if it was not too late to turn and run for the hills!

  • What if they don’t like me?
  • What if I run out of time?
  • WHAT IF I DO IT WRONG?!?!
Ding, DONG!
Anyone home?

I remember, too, thinking how I hadn’t really been forewarned on the reality of what to expect when arriving at a sceptical senior’s house for our first meeting.  I knew that I needed to be confident and professional in order to gain trust, but it turned out to be instinct I relied on to provide my client with a warm friendly vibe, that put them at ease.  I wanted them to know that not only was I was good at my job, but that I was a genuinely kind, empathetic person – and that I CARED too!

Luckily for me, my first client was the most adorably grateful, yet desperately frail gent who didn’t give a toot that I was the new kid on the block.  He was just so relieved to have me there.  

Which I guess at the end of the day is what it’s actually all about… THEM.

And NOT me.

So, I thought it might be helpful to list some essential, yet often over-looked pointers, to ensure the initial meet ‘n’ greet with your new client is as successful as it can possibly be. That brief, but impressionable moment where you get to reveal your amazing self and to plant the seed for a future mutually beneficial and respectful working relationship.  

Beware the twitching curtains…

1.   SMILE!

Appearing at your client’s door with the cheeriest, beaming-est face you can muster, will often be enough to knock the wind out of a potentially grumpy or resentful elder’s sails.  

Include a hearty ‘smile’ in your voice as well, which should nip any bad temper in the bud before they’ve had a chance to remember what they were cross about in the first place! 

Trust me, it works a treat – and what have you got to lose?  

2.   Use formal address – ALWAYS

Make a promise to yourself as an accomplished carer, to always use your client’s official title – especially for that initial intro:

“Hello, Mrs Picklehead, how are you today?

Older generations were bought up believing that this is the ultimate sign of respect – and it’s never to be messed with. If you are unsure of their marital status (you will come across the odd hard-nut spinster out there who’s never married and who will soon let you know if you dare to assume she’s a Missus) –  in this case, it’s best to opt for the full name approach:

“Good morning… Marjorie Jackhammer, is it?”

And as daunting as it may seem, you should always attempt to pronounce your client’s surname, regardless of how tricky it might look on paper.  That’s including the culturally curly ones that contain just about every letter in the alphabet – including all five vowels TWICE.

I will never forget standing outside Mrs Gina Kantezkantopituolos’s door in a cold sweat at the thought of insulting her by ballsing up her name and having her hate me forever.  She actually confided in me later that she’d appreciated me having a try (as feeble as it was) because others never even bothered.  For that reason, she’d eventually become known as ‘Mrs K’ just to save a fuss.

“For efficiency’s sake”, she’d always say.

Ultimately, ‘Gina’ and I got on so famously she insisted I call her by her first name anyway.  Phew…problem solved.

And who are you, Dear?

3.   Introduce yourself  

You’ll discover as you become more experienced and worldly, that some of your more dependant or unwell clients may have a whole army of carers, case workers, nurses, health professionals, specialists and home support people coming and going on any given day of the week – and sometimes ALL AT ONCE. 

So to avoid confusion or client embarrassment it is vital that you clearly state your name, rank and serial number when you meet for the first time.  That is before you launch into your work.  

Also, say where you are from and what you intend to do to them!  

There is nothing worse than arriving with your bucket and mop to do a domestic cleaning duty only to discover your client has since stripped off down to her petticoat in anticipation of having her wound dressing changed by whom she thought was the District Nurse instead.  

Not that that’s ever happened to me. 

No! Not at all, she said.

4. Confirm that your client UNDERSTANDS you

This is not as silly as it sounds.  And an accomplished careworker can determine a lot about someone who appears to be hard of hearing or can’t comprehend what is happening (and has no idea what you are babbling on about.)  

You’ve got several logical explanations:

  • your client is hearing impaired (the logical and most common one)
  • your client is from a non-English speaking background
  • your client is sick
  • your client is cranky and in a very, very, very bad mood (is it too late to run away?)

The answer for all of these situations is to slow your speech down, maintain eye contact and modify your voice and tone accordingly. You can find out later on (when you are friends) what the real story is. 

Use hand actions if you need to – and don’t be afraid to YELL.  I can spend entire days bellowing at elderly clients who have deafness issues only to get home at the end of the day and continue the trend with my family… haha lucky them!

HELLO? WHAT?

5.   Compliment your Client

One of the best bits of never-fail advice I can offer all budding carers (or for anyone trying to be accepted by someone new) is that you need to find something about your new client to compliment them on.  

Something. Annnything.

It could be that the buttons on their cardigan are sweet, you just love the colour of their blouse, they’re wearing a pretty-coloured lipstick or they’ve had a haircut and are looking exceptionally spruced-up.  

Or… if you’re really struggling to find something nice to say about your client, then admire the lovely photo of their grandchildren, the enormous ceramic vase in the lounge room, the beautifully manicured lawn or the fabulous blooms on the Camelia bush.

Whatever, doesn’t matter.  

Most mature-agers feel proud and pleased with themselves when they are told they have something that others might appreciate or find attractive.  It has huge impact and lets them know their contributions are still valued and more importantly – that they are people, too!  

And it’s a superb way to break the ice and show that you at least seem interested in them. Who knows, you might even CARE for goodness sake.

Wow, look at the pink on YOU!

6.   Acknowledge your Client’s Spouse

As an observant caregiver, it’s important to be aware that your new client may live with a husband, wife (or other family member such as a partner, son, daughter, niece etc). These onlookers can offer valuable insight on the person whom you may be about to help shower or spend time with in, say, a Respite capacity while their regular family caregiver has some time away from the house.

It is in your best interests, therefore, to butter-up these people and get them ‘on side’. They have a whole plethora of useful information about their parent, grandparent or great-aunty Doris which will make your job significantly smoother if you take heed of it; information that you won’t find on the Care Plan or in the medical notes.

For example:

When you take Uncle Reg on his walk to the library… he loves going via the paddock so he can say hello to the horses.  He needs to stick to this routine or he will get quite upset and then we will ALL pay later tonight!

Mum only likes using the pink towels… never the green ones as they were (deceased) Dad’s towels and she will get upset if you try and use them during her shower.

Little stuff like that, but it’s important stuff. And it’s stuff that will help you develop a good healthy rapport and eventually, a trusting relationship with your client AND with their live-in family.

7.   Acknowledge Pets

A mistrustful senior will literally GLOW when you show interest in their animals and I can guarantee you, without hesitation… they will instantly adore any visiting carer who does this.  

I’ve broken down many a barrier by patting the mangiest of dogs, admired weepy-eyed cats and even whistled at the odd tatty budgie in its cage. 

Fake it til you make it, don’t they say? It’s definitely worth it in the end, so do whatever it takes to gain your elder’s approval.

Rub the tummy of flea-bitten Ol’ Yella and say something silly to the cat – you’ll win over the confidence of your brand new judgemental client… and you can disinfect yourself in the car later!

Freckles moved in over an hour, Mrs Tittlemouse

8.   LISTEN to your Client

Every brilliant aged-careworker knows that communication is what it’s all about. 
Speaking yes, but possibly more importantly:  LISTENING.

So when you’ve rattled off your initial intro, make sure you take the time to hear what your new client has to say in response.  And if their speech is slow or they are struggling to get words out (for whatever reason) DON’T be tempted to talk over them or pre-empt their sentences. Show patience and be respectful in what they are telling you.  Be open-minded and NEVER make judgement. 

Sounds a bit like the Ten Commandments really…Thou shalt not pass judgement on thine old lady client! 

Let’s face it; most of this is common sense.  

Isn’t it?

9.   ASSESS

An astute and qualified carer should be able to evaluate a lot about their new ageing client in that initial meeting at the door. Body language, the way they talk, their hearing and vision, their coordination and mobility – all can reveal potential physical health problems, mental conditions or emotional issues. 

And all are clues that are handy for you to be aware of even before you’ve entered their home.

Take note of bloodshot or droopy eyes, the condition and colour of their skin, breathlessness, disorientation or confusion, complaints of pain and weakness can all mean something is not right and as their carer you will need to investigate further.  If only to pass it on by reporting your observations to a supervisor for follow-up which may then lead to further assessment or review.

Unfortunately, not only can you hear and see signs, but you can smell them too.

Take note of cigarette smoke, gas, alcohol, rotting food odours (ick) or stinky human excrement smells (double ick) … these are just a few indications of the way your beloved senior lives and that there may or may not be serious health problems afoot.

Been on the gin, Mr Slusher?

10.  You’re In!

Well done! Superb job!

You’ve passed the probing and interrogation stage and your shiny new client has allowed you to enter their world.

It’s now up to you to maintain your exemplary high standard of caring and strong positive work ethic. Enjoy getting to know your most-recent companion, but remain vigilant and remember there are professional boundaries. And don’t be tempted to cut corners – because it will most definitely bite you on the bum later.

Remember your integrity, listen to your inner voice… and feel pride in being able to provide a service to people who need your support to stay living in their own homes. And who on the most part, are actually very, very, very pleased to see you.

Happy Caring!

Cheers, Dollie
Posted in Aged Care, Working with Elderly

To Bidet, or Not to Bidet?

That, is the Toileting Question!

I came across this curious magazine advertisement whilst sitting bored on a plane recently. It caught my eye for two reasons:

  • 1.   I’d only just written an article about the ‘Worst Xmas Gifts Ever’, and…
  • 2.   Why was this cheery, yet smug-looking woman in beige slacks STANDING ON A TOILET???

The Best Xmas Gift Ever!!

“Usually for Christmas, my children buy me towels or pillows or once even a
basket for the cat. Last year, after a wonderful lunch in the park with my family,
we came home and I found that for a Christmas gift my son had organised
the replacement of my old toilet seat with an electronic Bidet toilet seat. 
I had seen them advertised on TV and thought what a great idea.”
After two weeks of having my new Bidet, I wondered how I had ever survived
previously without it.
All I have to do is sit down on my nice warm seat and go to the loo. Once I am
finished I simply press a button and I get a warm water rush and a stream
of warm air dry.
Now almost a year later, it has changed my life. I have saved a fortune 
in toilet paper and, I see going to the toilet as a time of luxury. 
It is the best Christmas gift I have ever received!”
– Sylvia Ross –

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

Upon reading the ad, I discovered that delighted ‘Sylvia’, is actually the proud owner (and operator) of a shiny new Bidet-style toilet seat attachment, secretly installed by her son as a surprise for Christmas.

That is, NOT an advert for your traditional (and kinda terrifying) stand-alone bidet.

Ahh no. 

Instead, Sylvia gleefully introduces us to the wondrous Electronic Bidet Toilet Seat! A magical two-in-one appliance that means upon completing her regular toileting ablutions, Sylvia gets to be luxuriously “warm water washed” and then blissfully“air-dried”. 

And without having to budge! Can you even imagine?

I later showed the mag clipping to my own mother just out of interest. Similar in vintage to Sylvia, it was interesting to hear Mum’s views on the whole BIDET topic. From the perspective of someone who, much like most of us who find those ‘odd-shaped water fountain thingies’ usually found only in hotels totally intimidating, she admitted that if she had to use a bidet – she really wouldn’t know where to start.

“It’s more of an upper-class European thing, isn’t it… or is it something the prostitutes in Amsterdam use?”

“My friend from bowls has a bidet – but she washes her Chihuahua in it.”

“I’d be scared it might explode… gosh, I could end up giving myself some sort of a nasty enema!”

What a bidet is NOT for!

All silliness aside, I did start thinking that perhaps Sylvia was ON to something (literally). And the more I thought about it, the more it seemed there were definite advantages to be had by a sensitive Senior considering enhancing their current loo to include a shiny new automatic built-in bidet. 

Interestingly, (but a bit odd) I discovered later after a bit of research, that the word Bidet comes from the French meaning ‘small horse’.

Oh, so you strap yourself on and ride it like a pony?”

Yep, thanks Mum.

And that apparently, it was the Japanese who first invented the modern integrated ‘toilet-bidet’ as a nifty space-saving device. Without need of a plumber, it is supposedly simple to install and something an older person (or obliging family member) could manage without too much fuss.  

Merely replacing the current tatty old dunny seat with a fabulous whizz-bang electric one. Easy peasy… botty-squeezy! 

Being suitably impressed by this snazzy new bathroom gadget (and without sounding like I have shares in the company), I have since started singing the praises of these electronic bidet toilet seats (aka EBTS) to some of my elderly clients. 

Especially for those suffering from never-ending incontinence or constipation episodes; or pesky mobility issues due to frail, weakened bones and stiff arthritic joints. I reckon it would be hard not to appreciate the enormous potential health benefits an all-in-one EBTS might provide.   Not to mention for those in their twilight years being more financially set to ‘splash out’ (ahem) and spoil themselves on a nice bit of luxury during their retirement.

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

8 fab reasons to get an EBTS installed at your parent’s (or your) house :

1.   You can do your ‘business’, then clean-up, dry-up all in one hit… in one SIT? 

2.   You can stay safe.  Not having to go ‘up down’ twice from a toilet to a separate bidet means less chance of a skate on slippery tiles.

3.   Personal hygiene is improved and more effective due to not having to awkwardly reach around to wipe. Tender, sore and ‘ouchy’ bottoms can stay cleaner – and heal faster.

4.   No hands required. Mission complete – without having to touch your rude bits!

5.   Issues such as constipation can be eased (eased out?) by caressing streams of warm water directed in all the right places.

6.   You can feel ‘shower fresh’ using an EBTS without having to fully strip off and endure the physical ordeal of an actual shower.

7.   There is less dependence on caregivers – which means preserving one’s self-confidence (and dignity).

8.   The warm-air dryer of the EBTS means those with ‘greenie’ tendencies can feel most satisfied that they’re saving “shit-loads” on toilet paper – HOORAY FOR THE ENVIRONMENT!

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

To summarise: Wouldn’t it be nice to offer the beloved in your life a tiny bit of toileting opulence in their golden years? Not to mention a toasty warm bum in winter.

It’s time to let dear old Mum know just how much you appreciate her and that because she is so special (much like Smug Sylvia) she absolutely deserves to have… THE BEST BIDET-TOILET SEAT IN THE HOUSE!

At least he’s using it correctly…. WOOF?

HAPPY CARING!

Cheers, Dollie

Posted in Aged Care, Working with Elderly

When Old People Help Young People

Can I Return Your Trolley For you, Dear?

As a rule, there’s not much in the way of kindness on offer in busy shopping centre carparks – especially from strangers performing the same tiresome routine as you.

Well today turned out to be my lucky-ducky-day!

Having pushed a way too over-loaded trolley out to my car (I detest the weekly supermarket battle but it’s just got to be done), I was puffing a bit and probably looked as hot and bothered as I felt.

Dollie with a trollie!

Whilst then transferring the weighty grocery bags into my car boot, I remembered a couple of essentials I’d forgotten to buy (why didn’t I make a goddam list?) so my head was miles away when an older man with lush white beard and dainty gold spectacles appeared beside me asking if he could perhaps give me a hand?

Gesturing towards my now empty cart he smiled and said in a most gentlemanly voice, “Can I return that for you, dear?”

My initial reaction was to decline politely this neatly-dressed chap’s offer.  For heaven’s sake, I was the carer who looked after elderly people – it should be ME offering to help HIM!

And he was clearly no spring chicken.  Although still quite sprightly, his light-weight frame and obvious hip issue made him look far too frail to be flinging other people’s grocery carts about.

Not only that, but I had to go back into the shopping centre anyway, which meant walking directly past the Trolley Return bay.  How easy-peasy it would be for me to whip my own cart (with it’s annoying dicky wheel) into the loading bay as I dashed by.

However, something in this earnest senior’s eyes made me zip my lip and realise that this was in fact, not about me.

Shopping Besties
– Dollie & Ray

Turns out that Ray (yes, we got chatting) was having his 90th birthday next week and he was really looking forward to the afternoon High Tea his family and friends (“the ones that haven’t dropped off, yet!”) were holding in his honour.  He told me how he had never felt so good – perhaps he might even have a gin or two on the BIG DAY!

“Gee whiz, I’m excited to be alive, Dollie!”

Ray then went on to explain how having something to look forward to and feel special about, had made such a difference to his life.  Especially after losing his wife Anne last year ‘to the Cancer’ had left him feeling lonely, depressed and quite lost.

Indeed, I recognised there was far more significance in allowing lovely, high-spirited Ray assist with my ridiculous supermarket trolley than there was in me trying to save time and supposed unnecessary fuss.

And it wasn’t because Ray just happened to be passing that he’d felt obliged to make the offer; nor because he thought I actually really needed any real help.

It was just because he could.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RAY!!!

Cheers,
Dollie
And now you’re just being silly